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Program offers foreclosure legal help

A new legal assistance program aims to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

The Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project is available to those who need legal advice to sort through the foreclosure process, said Mark Johnson, president of the Washington State Bar Association.

Penny Youde, executive director of the Spokane County Bar Association, said the local economy has had different challenges than elsewhere in the state.

“We did not have the decrease in home values as much,” Youde said. “We haven’t noticed a lot more calls from people asking for that. But we are anticipating (more foreclosures) as people lose their jobs.”

Attorney General Rob McKenna said state lawyers have negotiated settlements with major lenders that require loan modification programs and other remedies to help residents keep their homes.

“The threat of losing one’s home is one of the most frightening crises a family can face,” McKenna said in the news release. “That’s why the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project is so important.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she hopes the program helps hundreds of homeowners avoid foreclosure.

“I feel strongly we must do all we can to help homeowners in need,” she said in the news release.

John Clark, whose term just ended as the president of the Spokane County Bar Association, said local homeowners can contact the state bar association about the foreclosure program. But the local group still hosts the Volunteer Lawyers Program, which provided free help in other legal areas to about 1,600 clients last year.