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May 1, 2008
Foreclosure Assistance Program Gains National Attention

Save the Dream Across Ohio Activities Part of Law Day Celebration

Save the DreamIn recognition of Law Day, state officials have announced new foreclosure legal training dates and are reminding attorneys of pro bono opportunities to assist homeowners facing foreclosure as part of Ohio’s Save the Dream foreclosure prevention effort, which in the past month has gained recognition as a national leader in addressing the problem.

To add to the 350 volunteer attorneys trained already to assist in foreclosure cases, additional training sessions – including in high-need rural areas of the state – have been scheduled, Save the Dream announced today. Beginning May 9 through the end of June 17 free training sessions will be held around the state covering the basics of foreclosure. Attorneys can receive 5 ½ hours of CLE credit for completing the sessions. More information on the trainings is available at: www.ohiobar.org .

An April 16 report by The Pew Charitable Trusts ranked Ohio’s foreclosure response as one of the three best in the country. U.S. News & World Report, in an April 21 story, labeled Ohio’s foreclosure prevention program as one of the country’s most “ambitious.” The state also receives daily inquiries from other states interested in following the Ohio model, which is unique in its approach of consolidating all foreclosure prevention resources into one unified, statewide program.

Several Law Day activities are intended to build on this momentum, including:

Ohio’s extraordinary multi-agency “Save the Dream” foreclosure assistance program consolidates numerous state resources and programs related to foreclosure into one program for citizens to access for assistance. Among those services, Save the Dream connects qualified homeowners with legal aid lawyers and more than 1,200 attorneys statewide who have volunteered to provide legal services free of charge.

Homeowners facing foreclosure can call the Save the Dream hotline 888.404.4674 to see if they meet the income and other eligibility requirements to be connected with a pro bono or legal aid attorney. Qualified homeowners will be connected with a local legal aid program to be matched with an attorney. Basic income eligibility is 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which is about $53,000 annual income for a family of four.

The Ohio Department of Commerce launched Save the Dream on March 13 as a public awareness campaign that includes radio and television advertisements, a user-friendly Web site at www.savethedream.ohio.gov , and a telephone hotline 888.404.4674 that provides callers with information and access to an approved housing counselor. So far, the state has logged more than 1,600 calls to the hotline.

The public information campaign and the legal assistance initiative both fulfill specific recommendations of Gov. Ted Strickland’s Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, which was chaired by Director of Commerce Kimberly Zurz.

Save the Dream includes the following services intended to assist Ohioans in danger of losing their homes:

Save the Dream includes the Governor’s Office, the Treasurer’s Office, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Department of Development, the Equal Justice Foundation, the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, the Ohio State Legal Services Association, the Ohio State Bar Foundation, the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Community Legal Aid Services, the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project, Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, and Northeast Ohio Legal Services.

For more information about the American Bar Association’s Law Day, visit this link: http://www.abanet.org/publiced/lawday/2008/Full_catalog.pdf .

Ohio Department of Commerce, Barney Wolf: 614-644-7115
Ohio Supreme Court, Chris Davey: 614-387-9250
Ohio Attorney General, Ted Hart: 614-728-4127
Ohio Treasurer, Leesa Brown: 614-728-0449
Ohio State Bar Association, Ken Brown: 614-487-4426
Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, Lisa Eschleman: 614-752-2126