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February 19, 2013

MADIGAN ANNOUNCES GRANT FOR U OF I FROM NATIONAL FORECLOSURE SETTLEMENT

Champaign — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that $403,271 in funding from the national foreclosure settlement has been awarded to the University of Illinois College of Law Community Preservation Clinic.

The Community Preservation Clinic allows law students the opportunity to evaluate loan documents to assess options for people facing the daunting prospect of foreclosure. In cases where foreclosure cannot be avoided, students work to minimize client liability and work with lenders to establish financing opportunities.

“There is simply no substitute for legal representation when facing foreclosure,” Madigan said. “Not only will this funding give more Central Illinois residents an advocate to fight for them in court, it will give law students an opportunity to gain real lawyering skills by applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to their work in the courtroom.”

The Attorney General’s grant will be used by the Clinic to provide legal assistance in two Central Illinois counties. In the McLean County Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation Program, the Clinic will train and support its mediation program volunteer attorneys and conduct targeted outreach to homeowners living on Bloomington’s west side. The grant also will be used to conduct a program evaluation developed by law and psychology professors to assess how participants perceive the mediation process.

In Champaign County, the Clinic will use the foreclosure settlement funding to provide legal representation for tenants living in foreclosed properties. Law students will represent tenants caught up in landlord-tenant disputes when a property is on the verge of foreclosure. Students will interview tenants, assess legal defenses and, when appropriate, conduct trial work.

“As a public, land-grant law school, the University of Illinois College of Law is committed to serving the citizens of Illinois,” said Dean Bruce Smith. “Protecting homeowners and preserving dynamic communities are worthy goals, and we are proud and grateful to have our efforts supported by an office that is nationally recognized for its leadership in the areas of foreclosure, consumer protection and community vitality.”

“This generous and visionary grant will permit the College of Law’s Community Preservation Clinic to expand its services to the citizens of Illinois in an area of critical and pressing need,” said Stacey Tutt, director of the Clinic. “Foreclosure affects not only homeowners and lenders, but also neighbors, taxpayers, courts and entire communities. With this additional support from the Attorney General, the Clinic is in a stronger position to assist those impacted by the state and national foreclosure crisis.”

The funding stems from Madigan’s role in securing a $25 billion national settlement in February 2012 with the nation’s five largest bank mortgage servicers – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC. The settlement addressed allegations of widespread “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents and other fraudulent practices bank servicers engaged in while servicing loans of struggling homeowners.

As part of the national settlement, Madigan’s office recovered money to remediate the historic levels of foreclosure in Illinois. Today’s announcement is among the series of distributions of that funding, which as a whole will benefit legal assistance programs, housing counseling services and community revitalization efforts.

In addition to the cash payments directed to the state, Illinois borrowers will receive an estimated $1 billion in direct relief as a result of the national settlement to assist those who have lost their homes, are underwater or at imminent risk of defaulting on their mortgages. The settlement will also completely overhaul mortgage servicing standards to prevent future abuses by lenders.

Consumers seeking more information on the national settlement can contact Madigan’s Homeowner’s Helpline at (866) 544-7151, or visit her website, www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/bankforeclosuresettlement.html. Borrowers also can visit www.NationalForeclosureSettlement.com.

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