Ericka Davis of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently noted that "[o]ver the past decade, student debt has skyrocketed and delinquency rates have nearly doubled to levels much higher than for other consumer lending products." The impact of this debt and delinquency has been felt the most by young student loan borrowers, who now face lower credit scores and rates of home ownership that are the lowest since 1982, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Equal Justice Works Blog
2012 Equal Justice Works Illinois Foreclosure Fellow Tracy Walsh currently works at the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation. As part of her Fellowship, Tracy advocates for homeowners undergoing foreclosures. Equal Justice Works recently caught up with Tracy to learn more about her efforts to help struggling borrowers retain their homes in Chicago, IL.
What motivated you to pursue the Fellowship with Equal Justice Works?
There were more than 80,000 foreclosure cases pending in Cook County when I was working as a neutral officer of the circuit court in 2012. The court rooms were packed with distressed homeowners and tenants, who time after time lost their homes, as the majority of all decisions was foreclosure. Despite a common acknowledgement of the errors in our financial system that led to the 2008 collapse, years later, those admissions still weren’t translating into homeowners garnering relief on the foreclosure front. With my Fellowship, I meet the needs of homeowners struggling to overcome both complex legal proceedings inside of court and elusive servicer practices outside of court.
Attention law students: gain valuable career experience by providing legal services to those who need it most!
AmeriCorps JD, an Equal Justice Works program funded by AmeriCorps, provides law students with the opportunity to work with seasoned attorneys around important issues and earn an education award of $1,212 for serving as a Fellow for a qualified nonprofit, state/local government agency, or academic institution. AmeriCorps is now accepting applications for new Fellowships within the program until February 6, 2014.
What impact can you make as an AmeriCorps JD Member? 2013 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Jennifer Aronson, can tell you firsthand how her pro bono work made a significant difference, particularly in the lives of veterans.
Whether you are still deciding on college, taking out your first loans or are already in repayment, there is a lot to know about borrowing and repaying student loans.
Equal Justice Works Fellow Katherine Burdick (’12), sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, is expanding equal access to high quality education to all youth through her tireless work at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, Pa on behalf of youth placed in foster care or juvenile justice system institutions.
Currently, youth in juvenile justice facilities are chronically behind in school, and more than half eventually drop out. Throughout her Fellowship, Katherine and her colleagues organized meetings with experts nationwide to develop recommendations around providing high quality education to youth in juvenile justice facilities, which she ultimately presented to federal agencies last year.
Earlier this year, former Equal Justice Works Fellow Susan Friedman (’11) helped secure an exoneration for her client, Sabein Burgess, after he spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Sabein’s case was one of many that she worked on throughout her Fellowship at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project in Washington, DC. As part of her project, which was made possible by her sponsor Greenberg Traurig, Susan investigated and litigated cases where individuals were wrongfully convicted by the misuse of forensic science. She also advocated for policy reforms to maintain crime laboratory independence.
Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow Renée Schomp (‘14) is currently serving low-income Californians living in rural and isolated communities through her work at OneJustice, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, CA, which provides support to legal service nonprofits throughout the state. Her Fellowship project reaches veterans and other underserved populations. Equal Justice Works recently caught up with Renée to learn more about her efforts on the ground.
Q: Can you describe your current Fellowship project?
I lead the OneJustice northern California’s branch of the Justice Bus Project– a program that leverages pro bono legal volunteers to help rural legal service offices meet the needs of low-income Californians.
2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Teresita Ramos, works with the Disability Law Center, providing legal services to low-income, immigrant Hispanic children with disabilities in Lawrence, MA. Her work addresses the widespread denial of education services and empowers parents to enforce their rights through culturally-competent advocacy training. Teresita’s Fellowship is made possible by the generous donations from the 2013 Equal Justice Works Annual Dinner’s “Text-to-Give” campaign.
Most recently, Teresita helped one of her clients’ son, Sebastian, receive anIndividualized Education Plan for his reading skills. Her efforts were featured in the Wellesley Townsmen.
An ongoing criticism of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (one made, for example, by Jason Delisle at the New America Foundation) is that the possibility of earning forgiveness in 10 years makes graduate and professional students willing to borrow more money and that this reduced price sensitivity allows colleges and universities to charge higher tuition. At least in the legal field, there’s no evidence of that.
2012 Equal Justice Works Illinois Foreclosure Fellow, Lacy Burpee, is currently working with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. As part of her three-year Fellowship project, Lacy serves disadvantaged renters at risk of eviction due to foreclosure. We recently caught up with Lacy to learn more about her work in the field.
How does your Fellowship project enhance the current efforts at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH)?
I am part of the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP). This is one of the initiatives at LCBH that provides assistance to renters living in foreclosed properties. Housing stability is at the core of many issues that plague low-income individuals and communities: access to affordable, stable housing that impacts children’s education and opportunities, access to social and family support networks, and the ability to obtain living-wage jobs.