6/9/13 - Western New York Law Center and NCLEJ Sues Niagara County, NY, for Unlawful Delays in Providing Food Stamps and Cash Public Assistance to Residents
On July 9, 2013, NCLEJ and the Western New York Law Center filed a class action in the Western District of New York on behalf of residents of Niagara County who have applied, or are applying, for food stamps and/or cash public assistance. The complaint alleges that month after month, Niagara County fails to process hundreds of applications for food stamps and cash public assistance within the time periods prescribed by law, and fails to advise applicants of the delays and of their right to challenge the delays.
These benefits are crucial to the health and well-being of Niagara residents living in poverty. As a result of the County’s processing delays, Niagara’s poorest residents needlessly have faced, and continue to face, great hardship to put food on the table and make ends meet.
Plaintiffs have requested that the Court to certify the class, and to order Niagara County to adhere to federal and state law that requires it to process applications for food stamps and cash public assistance benefits within certain time frames. Plaintiffs have also requested that the Court require Niagara County to provide applicants with adequate notice of delays and their right to a fair hearing.
Marc Cohan, Tedde Tasheff, Laura Redman, and Jenny Pelaez of NCLEJ are co-counsel in this case with Joseph Kelemen of the Western New York Law Center.
1/30/13 – The official launch of CLARO Buffalo was announced at the press conference today. You can read the Buffalo New Article highlighting the event here. The video of the press conference is here. This link will allow the press conference to be viewed on Apple devices.
1/26/13 – M&T Bank representatives will come to WNYLC offices on Saturday to accept loan modification applications from clients facing foreclosure. WNYLC attorneys and legal our partners in providing foreclosure representation (Legal Services for the Elderly and Disabled and the Legal Aid Bureau) will meet with clients to discuss the the foreclosure process before the applications are submitted.
5/25/12 – On Saturday June 2, 2012, WNYLC will have a table at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. The library is hosting a housing fair called “From Our House to Yours” from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and WNYLC will staff a table there so we can talk to people who have problems with mortgages and consumer debt.
5/15/12 - Kate Lockhart and Lauren Breen from WNYLC presented at the 5th Annual New York State CDFI Coalition Conference in Albany. They were on a panel called “Recovering the Housing Vision: Effective Mortgage and Foreclosure Prevention Services.” A credit union and a representative from the Attorney General’s office were also on the panel, and the panel addressed the mortgage lending market, models for mortgage foreclosure prevention, and the state mortgage market including issues around the recent mortgage settlements. Kate and Lauren addressed the best practices on avoiding foreclosure as well as fair lending advocacy and education for community residents.
3/2/12 – WNYLC staff participated in a press conference with Assemblyman Ryan addressing the issue of properties that have been foreclosed on and then abandoned in the City of Buffalo.
2/8/12 – Kate Lockhart from WNYLC participated in a press conference on Buffalo’s property management law. Here is a link to the article with a video of the first part of the press conference.
2/4/12 – WNYLC staff participated in an event called “Know Your Rights:Foreclosure and the rights of the homeowner” and WNYLC staff intaked and advised clients at the North Buffalo Community Center on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
12/12/11 – WNYLC’s Vera Cedano was interviewed by the Buffalo Law Journal on the drop in foreclosures.
From the article:
Vera Cedano is a staff attorney at the Western New York Law Center who specializes in foreclosures.
“Based on the fact that the Baum firm is going down and the fact that foreclosures have been on the low, there is a misconception that things are getting better,” she said. “They are not.”
She attributed lower numbers to the fact that banks are struggling to catch up with new regulations that require them to affirm the history of a loan by actually speaking to the lender and verifying the accuracy of documents before they begin a foreclose. While that may buy people some time, it won’t stave off the inevitable.
“A lot of banks, when the new rules came out, put a lot of files on hold. That’s why the numbers (of foreclosures) dropped,” she said. “It wasn’t that things were better; it was that the banks weren’t proceeding on the foreclosure actions.
12/8/11 – WNYLC participated in two events. We set up a table at the True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo and talked to congregation members who needed help of information on foreclosure problems. In addition, Wells Fargo brought their loan processors to the WNYLC offices, connected to the Internet, and met with clients at our offices to process loan modifications immediately. Here is a photo taken at the end of the event:
11/26/11 – WNYLC appeared on a local radio show and took calls from people who had questions about foreclosures and mortgage arrears.
10/27/11 – WNYLC helped organize and participated in a conference called “The Civil Rights Aspects of Sustainable Communities” The keynote address was given by Thomas Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, US Department of Justice. This is a video of the WNYLC introduction and the keynote address.
Keynote address (High Resolution)
Keynote address (Low Resolution – loads faster)
10/6/11 – WNYLC client Bernard Dent testified about the help he received from WNYLC at a hearing in Buffalo held by the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman chairs the Task Force and chaired the hearing.
10/3/11 – WNYLC observed the City of Buffalo’s tax foreclosure auction, In Rem 45, in its role as coordinator for the Mayor’s Anti-Flipping Task Force. Representatives from the Law Center monitored and recorded all sales of properties put up for auction so that WNYLC could track improper property flipping.
9/29/11 – WNYLC obtained an injunction against the City of Buffalo. The City planned to hold it’s annual auction of thousands of properties for unpaid property taxes or fees for sewer, water, or garbage in the first week of October. Judge Thomas Franczyk ruled that the auction cannot include cases where the owner owes only the garbage, or “user fee,” an order affecting approximately 1000 properties on the foreclosure list.
8/14/11 – WNYLC organized and participated in “Operation Protect Your Home.” The event was held at Bennett High School in Buffalo, and loan servicers and legal services attorneys were present to help homeowners work out loan modifications on site.