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Grant to aid homeowners facing foreclosure

Updated: October 12, 2012 1:02PM

Facing foreclosure, most homeowners might assume losing their home is a foregone conclusion, and the idea of hiring an attorney to fight back isn’t financially feasible.

As it launches an initiative to offer legal help to homeowners in Cook County communities hardest hit by foreclosures, particularly the south suburbs, the Legal Aid Society is getting financial help from a state grant.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Thursday said the $650,000 grant to the society comes from the state’s share of a settlement with the nation’s biggest banks over allegations of fraudulent practices in foreclosure filings.

The money will be used by the society to pay for a full-time lawyer concentrating on South Side and south suburbs, and to hire a full-time paralegal to work out of the organization’s Blue Island and Palos Hills offices.

The grant is for three years, according to Kendra Reinshagen, the Legal Aid Society’s executive director.

The society, founded in 1886, provides free legal help to low-income residents in the Chicago area and is under the umbrella of Metropolitan Family Services.

Reinshagen, a Southland resident, said the money will also pay for community workshops “to let people know what their options are” as far as working through the legal system to stay in their home.

In order for Reinshagen’s group to represent them in court, however, the home has to already be in the foreclosure process, she said.

The society, with the grant, will be able to help more homeowners facing foreclosure, Reinshagen said.

“Up to now, we haven’t been able to take on a lot of these cases because of our resources,” she said, noting that already-strapped homeowners often can’t afford legal representation.

“If you can’t pay your mortgage, you can’t pay an attorney,” Reinshagen said.

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