2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Kristen Tullos

Kristen Tullos

Name of Host Organization: Atlanta Legal Aid Society
City, State: Atlanta, Georgia
Issue area: Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: The Home Depot; Ford & Harrison LLP

The Project

Kristen helped unemployed and underemployed homeowners in metro Atlanta avoid foreclosure by accessing relief under HomeSafe Georgia and the National Mortgage Settlement.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
The Atlanta metropolitan area has been hit especially hard by the ongoing foreclosure crisis. The current wave of foreclosures is driven by a dramatic increase in formerly middle class homeowners thrown into financial distress by layoffs or reduced wages. Until recently, very little assistance has been available to this group. In 2011, Georgia launched the HomeSafe Georgia program using funds received as one of 18 states “hardest hit” by the foreclosure crisis. This and other programs available to Georgians offer mortgage payment assistance for unemployed and substantially under-employed homeowners, but have been widely underutilized to date.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During their Fellowship, Kristen has:
• Represented 49 clients at risk of foreclosure and advised an additional 172 homeowners about their rights and options
• Helped clients access more than $650,000 in HomeSafe Georgia assistance
• Advocated for program changes that expanded access to the HomeSafe program in February 2014 and August 2015
• Built strong relationships with HomeSafe staff at the GA Department of Community Affairs
• Launched a pro bono project and referred two pro bono HomeSafe cases to attorneys at FordHarrison LLP
• Conducted trainings on loss mitigation attended by approximately 50 housing counselors and 25 mortgage company employees
• Presented information on preserving homeownership to approximately 380 future homeowners at 19 homebuyer education classes
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Kristen has transitioned to a Staff Attorney position in Atlanta Legal Aid's Home Defense Program and continues to represent homeowners suffering from temporary hardships while expanding her work to assist homeowners with a broader range of mortgage-related issues.

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