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Louisiana Receives Grant To Protect Elderly From Predatory Lending Practices

Monday, October 27, 2003

  • Brian Lenard
  • Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Louisiana legal programs will be able to expand services to the elderly thanks to a grant awarded by the US Administration on Aging of the Department of Health and Human Services. $95,000 annually for the next three years will be available in this state to fight the loss of clients' homes to predatory lenders. To be eligible for this help, clients must be aged 60 or over. There are no income restrictions. However, it is expected that most clients will seek help only when their homes are being foreclosed on because they haven't paid their mortgage, and clients in this situation will almost always be of limited income. This looks like a "first of its kind grant" from the Administration on Aging, which previously focused on funding legal nformation/ brief services legal hotlines for the elderly in this grant category. The Louisiana public interest legal community has a great opportunity to demonstrate the need and effectiveness of grants for legal representation in helping the elderly. Previously, Louisiana had unsuccessfully applied four times for the elderly legal hotline grant money. The project will be headed by the New Orleans office of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. A key component of the project is to provide support to other Legal Services programs and other Title III-B legal providers to the elderly to develop the experience to handle these kinds of cases, so that resources will still exist after the grant terminates. Support will include training, practice manuals, probably a forms disk, co-counseling and other assistance. Other partners in the project include the Better Business Bureau which will offer free mediation in appropriate cases; Catholic Community Services in Baton Rouge, which can provide free foreign language interpretation in eight different languages, the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs and the award winning Elder Law Task Force which will help with outreach and publicity of the project; and The AARP Foundation National Legal Training Project, which already hosted a much-in-demand training last month on this topic. Questions about the project should be addressed to Brian Lenard at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services 1-800-349-0886.
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