On September 27, 2017, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) and the National Consumer Law Center, Inc. (NCLC) (on behalf of its low-income clients), issued a joint letter to Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST), Clifford White. The letter urges for stronger relief for bankruptcy debtors in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico proportionate to the serious problems facing those hurricane victims. Specifically, NACBA and NCLC request EOUST approve a waiver of credit counseling requirements in the areas of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
The joint response comes after Director White issued enforcement guidelines for bankruptcy debtors affected by the current natural disasters on September 14th. The guidelines state that only “prosecutorial discretion” would be exercised “in considering whether to take action to dismiss the case of a debtor who, as a result of a natural disaster, experiences difficulty in obtaining a credit counseling certificate or whose filing was delayed beyond the 180-day period following the debtor’s receipt of credit counseling.”
“NACBA and NCLC collectively believe the use of prosecutorial discretion in deciding to lift the credit counseling requirements for bankruptcy debtors in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria does not go far enough,” says NACBA President Jim Haller. “The same step EOUST took in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, of approving a waiver of credit counseling requirements in areas affected by Katrina, should also be taken for all current hurricane impacted areas in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.”