“I’ve always had a strong sense of solidarity with working people. After teaching continuation high school to low income students for seven years in Pasadena, CA, I decided that I could do more as a lawyer to help people like my students and their families who were being exploited by our financial system. At age 43, I graduated from Peoples College of Law in Los Angeles, a law school whose mission is to train lawyers to represent people, not corporations — exactly what I wanted to do.

I am currently a staff attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance, working in its fair housing and foreclosure prevention program. One of my recent cases involved a low-income family who had purchased their home in the pre-financial-crisis days, with two loans and no money down. During the financial crisis, the value of the house had fallen so far, that the second loan disappeared for ten years — no statements, nothing. In 2019, they were contacted by a servicer for an investor that purchased the second loan. The servicer claimed that since my clients had not made a payment since 2010, the loan amount had increased from $80,000 to $180,000. We tried every strategy to keep the family housed, submitting multiple applications for loan modifications, filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy, and finally filing a state court action which the servicer removed to federal court.

We got a TRO to stop a foreclosure sale of the property scheduled two weeks before Christmas 2019, but the preliminary injunction was denied. The family was on the brink of losing their home for six months. Finally, in June 2020 the servicer settled. They reduced the balance down to $80,000, a lower interest rate, and payments of $375 a month. It was a huge relief to be able to keep this family in their home, especially at a time when the pandemic was causing so much disruption. I had to drop off some final paperwork at their house last month, and I got to see the family and wave at them from the driveway. Just a year ago they were a few weeks from being homeless. It was so satisfying to see them standing on the threshold of their own house, knowing that they’d be okay.”