Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico

by Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico
Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico

Last week Puerto Rico experience an island-wide blackout. In some regions, the power outage lasted for four days. Access to energy is essential for many, particularly for elders and people with disabilities or chronic conditions. The fragility of the energy grid is one of the consequences of neglected disasters. The impact of austerity joined that of major hurricanes. Privatization and negligent management, speculation, and resistance to adopt a climate justice perspective on energy have aggravated the crisis. Three months before the hurricane season starts, we see the phantom of neglect everywhere. With thousands of houses under blue tarps five years after María, only a few thousand families have received adequate assistance to repair or rebuild their houses, and with a worsening tendency to displacement, we need to call the government to act now


While we reiterate our demands of just recovery, we start our disaster readiness journey this month. We will be training lawyers, housing counselors, community leaders, and social workers on the essential legal tools they need to accompany survivors after an emergency. We hope that this workshop will pave the way to reinforce community protocols, given the lack of official plans to prevent, mitigate and attend crises.


Disasters may not be fashionable at this moment. When crises occur, there is a window of support and solidarity that closes too soon, although essential and life-saving. The sequels of disasters - the aggravated precarity- are often unseen. Supporting and donating to Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico and this project shifts that narrative and promotes long-term recovery and climate justice. Donate now. We can do more. 

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As we wrap up 2022, we create spaces to update and gather much-needed data about the foreclosure crisis in Puerto Rico. We also count our wins and remind ourselves about the long road ahead. As per the last official numbers, between 2017 and October 2021, nearly 16,000 homes were foreclosed. This means that multiple disasters did not slow down the impact of housing insecurity on families on the Island. Our lawyers have identified at least 1000 new foreclosure cases presented throughout these past 12 months.

In this context, legal empowerment efforts continue to be central. During 2021 - and in part thanks to your support- more than 900 people participated in our legal empowerment against foreclosures program. We have been able to socialize legal knowledge around essential tools such as information request processes so that families learn about their mortgage loan status and legal defenses after moratoriums on payments expire. We have offered assistance and a safe space for people confused, ashamed, and afraid of foreclosure processes. To convey power, we complement these efforts with movie nights, workshops provided by mental health practitioners, and plenaries of families affected by disasters. We are gathering data to help us understand the impact of our strategies impact on elders and women. We will share some insight on wins and challenges with you soon.

We face 2022 with hope and intention. Your continued support will help us expand this program and add new people to our team, an action that will multiply the capacity of our organization to promote dignified housing. We will be working with people - families - and through them continue defending the right to a systemic change that prioritizes the possibility of life, dwelling, and growth in the Island we call home.

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Its been a little more than a year since we started this fundraising to support our work against foreclosures. With your support, we are glad to announce that we have accomplished the goals set. We are ready to ask you to join us in a new journey towards legal empowerment and housing justice.

Its been a little more than a year since we started this fundraising to support our work against foreclosures. With your support, we are glad to announce that we have accomplished the goals set. We are ready to ask you to join us in a new journey towards legal empowerment and housing justice.

Today, as we transition to this new fundraiser, we acknowledge and celebrate how every cent allocated to this initiative translated into sustained legal support and empowerment. We can do so much with your help. Let's go quickly over some of our achievements for this term.

  • In 2020 we offered accompaniment to hundreds of families thanks to your support. This process did not pause because of earthquakes or the pandemic. Realizing that crisis increases the vulnerabilities of those who can't afford mortgages, we committed to being as present as possible.
  • We had 620 participants at our legal education and advocacy workshops.
  •  Because we decided to be present, we dedicated more resources to legal helplines, available all day every day. We provided direct individual support to 163 families, primarily women, and elders in Puerto Rico. 
  • We trained 64 attorneys committed to the right to housing.
  • We sustained continuous efforts to demand financial institutions' respect for human rights. We launched #JustMoratorium campaigns and educated people about the rights relating to foreclosures at times of crisis.
  • We were in media, a lot to denounce, demand, and celebrate significant wins on behalf of women and families with mortgages.
  • We promoted storytelling initiatives to tell people that they are not alone, that we are here to accompany them because you all make this possible. Remember Ritha's story and know more about the access to justice community

Together we can do much more. Please continue supporting Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico. You can find our new project on legal empowerment against foreclosures here.

Please keep in touch, let us know about your ideas and recommendations, help us be more effective, and most important: donate, support, trust.

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We launched this project, Legal Empowerment to Stop Foreclosures Puerto Rico, in December 2019. After dedicating two whole years to disaster legal aid and nearly four years to developing an anti-foreclosure program, we were asking ourselves how to sustain legal accompaniment at times of crisis. Participants of our workshops, people who called to our hotline or met us at community legal brigades, had just survived multiple disasters: 2017 hurricanes, unemployment, and the constant demands of financial institutions demanding unreal payments in exchange for housing. Little did we know that just months later, we would be facing earthquakes and a pandemic that would last nearly a year. Legal empowerment work regarding protections against foreclosure is now more urgent than ever. Your support has been instrumental. It is present on every phone call, every legal document we file, every workshop we carry out, and every piece of free legal education we share with a family desperately trying to keep their house. When we ask how we will sustain this work, till it is necessary, till it can empower and accompany those who fear homelessness because of foreclosures, every single one of your donations, emails, and support answers, "you will do it, with us. Thank you for accompanying Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico.

Since the last time we shared information about our impact, we have continued to assist people at risk of foreclosure using our helplines and education efforts. Just in 2021, we have provided free legal assistance to 37 people via our helplines. Thirty-eight individuals participated in our workshop on moratoriums and rights. A rise in concerns about the impending end of moratoriums and individuals' capacity to retain their homes is evident. 

The context is not promising. Between January and September 2020, 897 homes were foreclosed. Between March 15 (when the COVID-19 quarantine started) and December 31, 2020, 257 new foreclosure cases were presented at the courts. The crisis doesn't stop because of disasters. It worsens.

We decided to keep this project open to let donors show their support during their first semester of 2021. We are about to secure the funding to continue the Legal Empowerment Program for a whole extra year, and we want to ask you to continue amplifying this call. 


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At Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico we have been monitoring the progress of the foreclosure crisis amidst disasters that range from hurricanes to a pandemic. We have faced the fact that when confronted with increased economic vulnerability, the government and financial institutions are slow to respond to protect housing. An assessment of the current situation shows that between January and July 2020 - while Puerto Rico has been under a lockdown because of COVID-19, +100,000 still await unemployment assistance and the southern part of the Island continues to experience seismic events-  719 families have lost their homes because of foreclosures. As of July, we estimated that 32% of families with mortgages were under risk of losing their homes.

It is in this context that we have been strengthening our work towards prevention. We have engaged stakeholders at local and US levels, such as the National COnsumer Law Center, to develop capacity among attorneys who accompany these families to defend their rights. Thanks to your support, in July, we trained more than 60 lawyers on a community perspective to prevent foreclosures. In August, we celebrated another workshop with the collaboration of Servicios Legales de Puerto Rico, on moratoriums. Physical distancing has not been an obstacle for legal empowerment. We have had 278 participations in our foreclosure workshops, in the months of June to September. As per our livehelp lines - chat and phones- we have attended families concerned with moratoriums, how to request access to their files and more.

Our efforts to protect the rights of elders and women have sustained. We are currently working on a collaboration with the Elders Advocate Office and we had the chance to provide a workshop to their legal and first response staff on elders rights. We are working on a workshop that will be celebrated next November on the intersections of domestic violence and this housing crisis.

The future looks complicated, at least.Moratoriums will end soon and the economic impact of the pandemic has not been mitigated. But we are hopeful and we are strong. We need your support to continue this work. We are glad to say that we are committed to maintaining Derecho a tu Casa program into 2021. We are projecting to close this Global GIving request by December, to make space for a new pledge to sustain a program with more lawyers and empowerment, in order to have a bigger impact. We are happy for your support and we hope that you will help us reach this goal and move to the next step. Our current goal to complete this project is  nearly $12,000. With your help, we can make this happen.  We are working towards that.


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Organization Information

Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico

Location: San Juan - Puerto Rico
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ayudalegalpr
Project Leader:
Ariadna Godreau
San Juan , PR Puerto Rico

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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