In our foreclosure prevention practice, we help clients with short and long-term options for keeping their homes, including loan modifications that change the terms of a mortgage to make it easier to pay. Our attorneys are in the courtroom for initial hearings in judicial foreclosure cases to provide same-day legal information, referrals, and representation to low-income homeowners at risk of losing their homes. We also work to protect clients from abusive and illegal practices of mortgage servicers. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Legal Aid has worked with our partners to advocate for protections for homeowners, including a foreclosure moratorium put in place by the DC Council in May 2020 and extended several times, until it finally expired in June 2022. The moratorium likely helped thousands of DC homeowners keep their homes, preventing another wave of displacement of Black and Brown residents. At the same time, the District has been slow to distribute federal relief dollars, with millions still available, even as foreclosures are once again allowed in DC.

Relief dispersed by DC's Homeowner Assistance Fund Pilot Program
Percentage of Pilot Program participants who identified as Black
Estimated number of DC households behind on mortgage payments

Helping a DC Homeowner Keep His Home

Abdul Fernanders came to Legal Aid for assistance in the summer of 2021. At that time, Mr. Fernanders’ mortgage payments were paused pursuant to the CARES Act Mortgage Payment Forbearance. However, the forbearance was coming to an end and Mr. Fernanders could not afford to restart his monthly mortgage payments. He was also behind on second mortgage payments, and a lien was recorded on his property for delinquent condo fee assessments.  

Legal Aid attorney Zenia Laws helped Mr. Fernanders avoid the risk of foreclosure by attaining a COVID-19 Recovery Modification, which brought Mr. Fernanders’ first mortgage payment current and made his monthly payment affordable by lowering it by almost 30 percent.  

Abdul Fernanders


"I have a roof over my head."
Mr. Fernanders

Legal Aid also helped Mr. Fernanders apply to the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Pilot Program to assist him with his condo fee and second mortgage arrears. HAF uses federal funds from the American Rescue Plan specifically set aside to help people who have fallen behind on mortgage payments, condo fees, and other housing-related payments.  

The HAF Pilot program launched in October 2021 and ended in June of this year when the full HAF program opened up. Mr. Fernanders was approved for the HAF pilot, and payments were made on his behalf. The HAF program also made three months of forward-facing payments toward Mr. Fernanders’ condo fees and second mortgage giving him a fresh start post-pandemic.  

With the loss of his job at the beginning of the pandemic, Mr. Fernanders pursued his passion for cooking and started a mobile catering business called Dooley Eats.  

Legal Aid has continued to advocate this year for the DC Council to close a gap in legal protection for homeowners with pending HAF applications.  When the Council phased out the District’s foreclosure moratorium over the summer, it passed emergency legislation allowing homeowners with pending HAF applications to pause the foreclosure process – but only if they applied by September 30, 2022.  Homeowners who have applied since that deadline (and any who might apply in the future) are vulnerable to foreclosure, even as they wait for the DC Government to process their applications and/or release assistance.  

Legal Aid will continue to advocate for foreclosure protections for homeowners in danger of foreclosure.  

Legal Aid's Impact

Organizational Information & Acknowledgments