New York AG Directs Legal Services Providers to Assist Buffalo Residents

December 4, 2014

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman met with local leaders in Buffalo Wednesday and announced that he is making a network of housing counselors and legal services providers available to help area residents resolve issues with insurance companies and mortgage providers following extensive home damage from record snowfall.

Schneiderman said the Home Owner Protection Program (HOPP) and its network of lawyers and housing counselors will be available to help consumers resolve outstanding insurance claims, address contractor issues, and navigate other storm-related problems that could impact homeownership.

In addition to offering the services of the HOPP network, Schneiderman also announced that he has created an “Escalations Unit” within his Buffalo regional office. He said this unit will engage directly with an insurance provider or lender on behalf of a consumer who is having problems with a mortgage lender or insurance provider if referred by one of the HOPP organizations. The HOPP network is modeled after a program the attorney general had launched following Superstorm Sandy to assist homeowners in New York City and Long Island.

The 10 county region affected by the recent snowstorm will have access to six legal service organizations and eight housing counseling agencies. They include:

• Belmont Housing Resources for WNY Inc.
• Buffalo Urban League Inc.
• Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester Inc.
• Friends of the North Country Inc.
• Home HeadQuarters Inc.
• Housing Assistance Program of Essex County Inc.
• Legal Aid Society of Mid NY
• Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York Inc.
• Legal Assistance of Western New York Inc.
• Legal Services of Central NY
• The Legal Project
• UNHS NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center
• Western New York Law Center Inc.
• West Side Neighborhood Housing Services

The Empire Justice Center, a state-wide non-profit who assists the Attorney General’s office in administering the Homeowner Protection Program, will also be providing training and technical assistance to HOPP grantees on insurance claim advocacy during this initiative.

Schneiderman was joined Wedensday at a press conference in Buffalo by U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Senator Tim Kennedy, and Joe Kelemen, executive director of the Western New York Law Center.

Schneiderman also announced that he is calling on banks, mortgage providers, and utility companies to suspend late fees following the temporary suspension of the U.S. Postal Service. Mail delivery was suspended for several days in wake of the snowstorm.

“New Yorkers pull together during difficult times, and that is why our team of lawyers and housing counselors are ready to help Western New Yorkers impacted by this severe snowstorm,” said Schneiderman. “Many families have been hit hard enough by the weather, and that is why we want to make additional resources available to homeowners and consumers in need.”

Source: New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office

Related Articles:
A.M. Best: Buffalo Snowstorm Impacts Regional Property Writers
Snowstorm Recovery Efforts Continue in Buffalo, N.Y.

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