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    01.21.11 Brooklyn Law Students Prevent Foreclosure of Low-Income Co-ops
    Amy Handler and Steve DeMizio

    Amy Handler ‘11 and Steve DeMizio ‘11

    In the midst of December finals, two student teams from the Corporate and Real Estate Clinic represented low income cooperatives in closings, which resulted in $1.3M in loans to prevent foreclosure. Thanks to the efforts of Amy Handler ‘11 and Steve DeMizio ‘11, a 51-unit low-income cooperative in the Bronx received $800,000 to pay delinquent real estate taxes. As a result of the work of Julia Howard-Gibbon ’12 and Chris Colon ’11 a 20-unit building in Williamsburg received a loan of $550,000. Both teams negotiated loan documents, drafted opinion letters, resolved title issues and met with officers to explain the many lengthy documents. The two-month effort began with reviewing by-laws, commercial leases, insurance certificates and other background information, and led to successful closings in December.

    The student teams were supervised by Professor Debra Bechtel, Director of the Clinic, who said she is proud of their efforts because, “without the students’ careful attention to all the closing issues, the co-op officers would have had great difficulty getting through the process. These buildings faced foreclosure if they didn’t receive the loans needed to pay their delinquent real estate taxes. Many problems can surface in the closing process, from unregistered boilers to missing commercial leases and problematic by-law language, so the co-ops really benefit from the careful attention given by these students.”

    Chris Colon and Julia Howard Gibbon
    Chris Colon '11 and Julia Howard-Gibbon '12

    In a city with a dearth of affordable housing units, co-ops that are designed for low-income people are an important resource. There are over 1,000 such co-ops in New York City, mostly in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn, and one of the only sources of free legal service for low-income cooperative boards of directors is BLS’s Corporate and Real Estate Clinic.

    This clinic offers approximately ten students each semester the unique experience of representing low-income cooperative boards of directors as "house counsel." Buildings range in size from six units to 50 units and are located in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. A few client matters also involve not-for-profit corporations and initial cooperative conversions. Students work primarily on loan closings, co-op unit closings, shareholder meetings and by-law and proprietary lease amendments. Some students are also involved in devising model policies and seminars for the benefit of all clients. All of the projects require preparation of comprehensive but concise documents and creative application of corporate statutes and techniques in order to meet clients' goals.

    Read more about this clinic.