McGraw says Legal Aid funding to come from mortgage settlement

McGraw

LOGAN - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw on Thursday presented a check for $1 million to Legal Aid of West Virginia, allowing the nonprofit organization to continue to operate its office for Logan and Mingo counties for the next three years. McGraw presented the check to Legal Aid Executive Director Adrienne Worthy. Legal Aid is the sole provider of no-cost legal assistance with housing, income security and safety issues for the state's low-income or "vulnerable" citizens. In a news release, McGraw said his Consumer Protection Office was able to secure the funding for Legal Aid through the nationwide mortgage settlement reached in February. The deal, finally reached between federal officials, 49 state attorneys general and the banks after many months, is worth $25 billion but only covers those mortgages held by the five banks, not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. West Virginia will get more than $33 million in assistance for struggling homeowners. Of that, an immediate estimated payment of $2,000 will go to each state homeowner who lost their home to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011. More than $18 million will go to loan modifications and benefits to state homeowners currently in default or foreclosure. More than $5 million will go to free refinancing for "underwater" but current state homeowners. Another $6 million will go to foreclosure and mortgage assistance and prevention programs in the state. According to McGraw's office, the funds will allow Legal Aid to partner with the office's Project: Save Our Homes initiative and establish an attorney position in the nonprofit's Martinsburg office. "In these times of budget cuts and economic hardship, we are happy to be able to help Legal Aid of West Virginia maintain its vital legal services without the use of taxpayer dollars," the attorney general said in a statement. McGraw said Legal Aid lost $1.2 million in federal and other grants this year, and that number is expected to increase next year. "Without other funding, like the check we are presenting today, these cuts would severely curtail their ability to offer free, life-changing legal help to those citizens who need it most," he said. In coordination with the Save Our Homes program, Legal Aid will provide mortgage and litigation help for homeowners at all 12 offices in its West Virginia network, including the Logan office. The Attorney General's Office announced that Legal Aid would receive the funds during a free Consumer University seminar and day-long Save Our Homes workshop at the Chief Logan Conference Center Tuesday. The seminar was presented by McGraw's office and AARP.

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