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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:49 am

A day-long conference on homeowners’ rights under the National Mortgage Settlement will be at the Arizona State University Homeowner Advocacy Unit at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on Oct. 19.

The free conference, which is open to homeowners, homeowner advocates and the public, will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the law school’s Armstrong Hall on the Tempe campus.

“It will be more of an information gathering event,” said Andrea Esquer, a spokeswoman for the law school, while noting that there will be a few housing counselors in attendance. Participants do not need to bring any documentation to the event.

In February, five of the largest U.S. banks settled with 49 state attorney generals, including Arizona, for more than $25 million in monetary sanctions and relief to homeowners as a result of the mortgage crisis.

“This is for homeowners who might be having difficulty dealing with their mortgage broker,” Esquer said.

Arizona’s Hardest Hit Fund will be a topic of discussion, she said. The fund was created in 2010 to assist homeowners facing imminent foreclosure of their homes.

“They can determine if they might be eligible for some of the relief programs,” Esquer said.

The keynote speaker will be Joseph A. Smith, Jr., who was appointed to oversee the agreement. He is a former North Carolina Commissioner of Banks, who oversaw the licensing and regulation of banks and thrifts, according to a press release from the law school.

“I recently released my first progress report on the banks’ progress under the settlement, and I look forward to sharing what I’ve found,” Smith said in the release. “Additionally, improving the way consumers are treated in mortgage servicing is worthy of lengthy discussion and I look forward to hearing the opinions of the experts who will gather to discuss these important issues.”

Other participants in the event will include representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico. They will discuss the progress of the settlement between the banks and states.

The event will be an important event for attorneys who might have a client dealing with foreclosure, Esquer said.

“This is not an area of law that many practice in,” Esquer said. “Most attorneys wouldn’t even know who to turn to for resources.”

“If you’re an attorney whose client usually comes to you for their business needs, you probably won’t know a lot about this area,” she added.

The College of Law’s Homeowner Advocacy Unit opened last year as part of the Civil Justice Clinic. It seeks to help distressed homeowners who have been victims of mortgage fraud or are facing wrongful foreclosure and is funded through a grant from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Students who participate in the clinic are trained to the skills necessary to become advocates for distressed homeowners.

To RSVP to the event, visit www.law.asu.edu/homeownerrights. A $5 box lunch can be purchased at the registration.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or sspring@evtrib.com

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