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Puerto Rico Legal Aid unveils tech tool to identify level of risk of foreclosure

In anticipation of its upcoming “Having a roof is a right: Common power against executions and evictions” virtual meeting, Puerto Rico Legal Aid (ALPR, in Spanish) announced the creation of a technological tool that allows identifying the level of risk of a foreclosure, the organization’s Executive Director Ariadna Michelle Godreau-Aubert announced.

The virtual event will take place April 29-30 and will bring together experts on the matter from Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, the United States and Puerto Rico.

The tool consists of a simple survey that allows the user to measure risk conditions of losing their home, such as the type of mortgage loan, status as a survivor of gender violence, if the person is 60 years or older, if they are going through a process of divorce, death of spouse, loss of job or catastrophic illness, if the house has suffered damages from a disaster, time in arrears in mortgage payments, and the status of the foreclosure process, said Attorney David Rodríguez-Andino, who created the system.

People interested in using it can “easily and anonymously” access the tool from a computer, cell phone or other device connected to the internet, said Rodríguez-Andino.

“Once the level of risk is identified, which ranges from mild to high, people will receive information on next steps and referral information to nonprofit advisory entities, legal service providers or other comprehensive support,” he added

“The ‘At risk of losing your home?’ tool is part of the ‘Right to Your House’ program, which promotes legal empowerment against foreclosures,” said Godreau-Aubert, who stressed that Puerto Rico faces an unprecedented foreclosure crisis and, faced with it, “we must educate ourselves to know, exercise and defend the right to housing.”

Through this program, ALPR conducted a study of the mortgage foreclosure lawsuits filed from Dec. 28, 2019 — the start date of the earthquakes that struck Puerto Rico’s southwest area — to Dec. 31, 2020. The study confirmed that the threat to the right to decent housing does not stop during disasters, particularly when the defendant is a woman.

Case monitoring showed that 78.2% of identified foreclosures included a woman as a defendant. Furthermore, in 27.3% of these cases, the defendant consisted solely of women.

“In an island where the poverty level in households with female heads of families reaches 58.2%, it’s an outrage that approximately one in four mortgage lawsuits is filed exclusively against women,” she noted.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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