The foreclosure crisis in New York State is far from over. Foreclosures filings in New York remain high, hovering at more than 40,000* a year since 2013, a number well above pre-recession levels. After reaching a low in 2011 of under 17,000, the number of filings began to creep back up to a level alarmingly close to those seen at the height of the crisis.
At the beginning of 2015, there were over 90,000 foreclosure cases pending in New York State Courts. Overwhelmingly, homeowners in foreclosure cases in New York State appear in court without counsel, while 100% of the plaintiffs are represented.
On December 14, 2015, new help became available to New Yorkers facing foreclosure: LawHelpNY, together with the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program and Pro Bono Net, launched LiveHelp, a real time chat service, on the foreclosure pages of the CourtHelp website.
Since 2010, LiveHelp operators have assisted thousands of individuals visiting LawHelpNY who are often facing serious legal problems, but can’t afford a lawyer. By making LiveHelp available on the foreclosure pages of the CourtHelp website, LawHelpNY hopes to reach even more New Yorkers in need, in particular those facing the dreaded prospect of foreclosure. The disparity in representation in foreclosure cases, as well as the potential devastating impact on families of losing their home in foreclosure, led to the selection of this particular topic for which to offer LiveHelp assistance on the CourtHelp website.
LiveHelp, which is provided in English and Spanish, is largely staffed by law students under the supervision of an attorney, and is available from mobile phones as well as PC’s. Other LawHelpNY projects include the bilingual blog,www.RealNY.org, and extensive community level outreach through public libraries, non-profits and government offices. CourtHelp is the New York State Court’s website designed specifically to help unrepresented litigants get easy-to-understand legal and procedural information, and instructions regarding their court case.
*August 2015 report from the Office of the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.