HUD Grant Helps Extend Work on Predatory Lending/Home Preservation Initiatives

A program training John Marshall Law School students about predatory lending will be able to continue into its 10th year thanks to $97,133 in extended funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The program developed and managed by The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center works with law students and local housing support organizations to provide information that may help homeowners avoid the pitfalls through the protection afforded them under the Fair Housing Act.

“It is unfortunate that the problems of predatory lending haven’t lessened, but through our program we are training students to be knowledgeable advocates for those who find themselves taken advantage of,” said Professor Michael Seng, co-director of the Center. said.  “Having the continued support of HUD, as well as the City of Chicago and the Department of Community Development is making a difference for our students, and in turn those who need legal advice.”

Seng established a predatory lending program in 2003 in conjunction with Greater Southwest Community Development when its leaders saw a uptick of bad loans being written for Chicago’s Southwest neighborhood housing.  Many residents found themselves in default, and the development leaders asked Seng for assistance.

From that first initiative, Seng developed a Predatory Home Lending Law class in 2003 for John Marshall students. Since then more than 225 students have taken the class to learn the legal ramifications of the predatory lending issue and work on community outreach.

The program continued to grow and today, as the Fair Lending/Home Preservation Project, it includes the classroom component and hands-on training for students so they can identify predatory lending problems. The students work to help with loan modification applications, assist counselors with reviewing modification packages, and inform homeowners of free services available through counseling agencies. Students review homeowners’ financial and property documents alongside housing counselors.

The HUD grant is allowing John Marshall to:

  • Prepare students for community presentations on unfair and discriminatory home lending practices;
  • Continue fair lending/home preservation programs to improve the skills and knowledge of service providers that assist the general public on fair lending laws and issues;
  • Give presentations on reverse mortgages for senior homeowners;
  • Educate attorneys and housing or mortgage service providers on the statutes governing fair lending and the legal remedies, as well as options for victims of lending discrimination.

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