Legal Aid Center in the News
Economist: Las Vegas housing recovery could take decades
October 8, 2012
By Benjamin Spillman
Las Vegas Review Journal
Sileshi Kassa is nothing if not persistent.
The 61-year-old Ethiopian immigrant slogged through a bureaucratic bog for two years so that he could save his family's Las Vegas-area house from foreclosure.
But the global recession arrived like a tsunami in 2008 and swamped Kassa, and more than 150,000 others. Driving a cab was no longer enough to maintain the mortgage.
Legislation aims to curb over-medicated odyssey many foster children face
Monday, June 18, 2012
By Tovin Lapan
Las Vegas Sun
Matthew Stewart Pitzer was 9 years old when his mother decided she could no longer care for him.
Pitzer's drug-addicted mother left him at Montevista Hospital, a psychiatric and chemical dependency hospital in the western valley. A few days later, social services called to ask Pitzer's mother to come pick up the child. She refused.
Legal Aid Center's good works challenge lawyer stereotypes
December 13, 2011
By Herb Jaffe
You've heard the scores of lawyer jokes. You've heard the gamut of horror stories about lawyers, especially incidents of outlandish lawyer avarice. You've heard the late-night comedians throw barbs at lawyers, and the midnight talk show hosts who dredge up one insulting story after another about lawyers whenever they run thin on material.
And so it goes when often discussing the men and women who represent our legal profession. Generally, we tend to hear the besmirching remarks only from those on the losing side. Remember, lawyers represent contestants in a legal battle, where there is almost always a winner and a loser. And, of course, it's the loser who's inclined to find fault with his lawyer.
But how about the other side of the coin? How about considering less tarnish and more acclaim for a profession without which our society could not function? How about a story that talks about the good things that lawyers do? About how they give of themselves to help others?
Experts say America needs to fix 'underwater' home loans
December 4, 2011
By Mark Roth
Barbara Buckley realized early in 2009 that Las Vegas was entering a full-blown housing crisis.
That's when the executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada began to see clients who were struggling to make their house payments, but couldn't reach any accommodation with their lenders.
The people coming through her door had a recurring complaint.
"The refrain was common: 'I'm in trouble, I need help. And if only I could get someone on the phone who had a brain, we could work this out. I have an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate is out of whack, my hours were cut -- anybody with a brain would work this out and stop yet another senseless foreclosure, but I can't get anybody on the phone.'"
Hispanics especially vulnerable in Las Vegas housing crisis
December 4, 2011
By Michael Henninger
It was one of the most melodramatic scenes in this city's 4-year-old housing crisis.
In the broiling heat of summer, with daytime temperatures sometimes soaring to 107 degrees, Armando Cortinas and his wife Beatrice were camped out in their backyard after being locked out of their home when their lender filed an eviction action against them.
Mrs. Cortinas, a school cook, and Mr. Cortinas, an electrician, slept in a tent, cooked on their grill, washed up with the hose and kept drinks in an ice chest, all the while sharing space with their five dogs and two desert turtles.
The Cortinases, who have owned their home for 15 years, insist they always kept up with their mortgage payments, even during the period a few years ago when they were in Chapter 13 bankruptcy because of high credit card bills. They have hired an attorney to fight the expulsion.
Desert Underwater: Progress Made as Residents Fight to Keep Homes
Nov 23, 2011
By George Knapp
8 News Now
Housing experts now estimate more than 100,000 homes in the Las Vegas valley have been foreclosed since 2007. Bad enough, but they also predict another 100,000 could face foreclosure before the housing crisis ends.
Banks and other lenders have been haughty and crass in their dealings with troubled homeowners. As people have struggled to hold onto their homes, they have been subjected to dirty tricks, scams, and indifference. But progress has been made and small steps have been taken by some Nevadans who are standing by to help even more.
Nevada Speaker of the Assembly Barbara Buckley saw the trouble coming years ago, not because of her legislative position, but because of her day job as head of the non-profit Legal Aid of Southern Nevada.
Courts’ self-help center has aided 55,000 people
Aug. 3, 2011
By Steve Kanigher
Las Vegas Sun
A middle-aged Las Vegas salesman who lives in an apartment was served a five-day eviction notice he insists is “totally bogus” because he pays his rent on time. He showed up at Las Vegas Justice Court after the eviction was to take effect. That was because the notice was initially sent to the wrong apartment, something he thinks the landlord did on purpose.
The angry tenant spoke with a court clerk at the Regional Justice Center and was directed downstairs, where off to one side of the main lobby is what is fast becoming one of the most popular spots in the courthouse — the Civil Law Self-Help Center.
I-Team: Is Foreclosure Mediation Working?
Jul 29, 2011
By Alex Brauer
8 News Now
Help can often seem out of reach for the tens of thousands of Nevada homeowners underwater in their mortgages. But despite growing pains, the state's Foreclosure Mediation program is making strides to get the banks and homeowners on the same page.
The plan is supposed to be simple. First, you get a default notice on your house. Next, the state requires three people to get into a room. And then, the homeowner, bank and mediator sort it all out. It could be the lifeline so many need.
Legal Aid Center applauds ruling on homeowner mediations with banks
July 11, 2011
By Steve Green
Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada today praised rulings last week by the Nevada Supreme Court boosting protections for homeowners trying to save their homes through mediations with banks.
They must produce required documentation and make someone available at foreclosure mediations who can make a decision on mortgage loan concessions that could keep struggling homeowners in their homes.
“We have been representing homeowners at foreclosure mediations for the past two years.” Barbara Buckley, executive director of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, said in a statement. “This decision by the Supreme Court was a victory for homeowners who have been participating in good faith at these mediations, but have been faced with less-than-open lenders who have been playing games for years. The court’s ruling levels the playing field and gives homeowners a fighting chance to stay in their homes.”
Recession makes legal aid center more important than ever
July 1, 2011
By Steve Sebelius
For Barbara Buckley, the recession is a construction worker thrown off the job by the recession, in the midst of a divorce, losing his home and being sued by a credit card company he can no longer pay, resting his head on a desk at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and crying.
But thanks to millions in donations and a bill approved during the 2011 Legislature, there will be plenty more room for those desks, staffed with more lawyers whose job is to help the poor -- from abused children to victims of domestic violence to out-of-work residents struggling to pay their bills and stay in their homes.
Grant Offered to Help Struggling Homeowners
Jan 27, 2011
By Tedd Florendo
8 News Now
Drive down any residential block in Las Vegas and you will probably find a foreclosed home. Many of those former homeowners say they didn't know where to get help or who to trust.
Barbara Buckley, executive director of Legal Aid of Nevada, says too many homeowners don't know where to seek help or get advice when their home is up for foreclosure. That's why she supports a $300,000 grant from the state, aimed at giving free education classes and legal advice.
Jan. 20, 2011
Every student dreads a required parent conference. It's a serious disciplinary measure. But what happens if you don't have a parent to attend that required parent conference. A small but significant number of Clark County students do not have a parent who can help them when the school district calls or worse - when the schools are failing to provide the necessary instruction and a parent needs to speak up. The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has an innovative program to provide that support. Volunteers with knowledge of the school district or the ability to learn it are appointed to help students and ensure that they are receiving a satisfactory education. We talk with the coordinator of the program and a couple of surrogate parents.
Housing experts seek solutions to Nevada’s foreclosure woes
By Buck Wargo
Jan. 11, 2011
Las Vegas Sun
A group of housing experts on Tuesday urged the Nevada Legislature to enact legislation that encourages more short sales and provides more financial protection for homeowners who can’t afford to keep their homes.
The UNLV panelists on “Ending the Foreclosure Crisis in Nevada,” which featured former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, said the region’s housing woes are improving, but it’s a long way from being over, even though measures have helped to mitigate the problem.