COVID-19 did not stop the foreclosure crisis. Lets work towards our goal.
By Ariadna Godreau Aubert | Founder and director
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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