Starting Jan. 1, the Homeowners Bill of Rights takes effect in California, where residents facing foreclosure will enjoy new protections against lender abuses. The state suffered more than 900,000 foreclosures between 2007 and 2011, hurting property values and generating less revenue for schools and public services. The Homeowners Bill of Rights extends a provision of the National Mortgage Settlement to ensure that borrowers who apply for a loan modification receive an answer from the lender with an explanation for the decision before the foreclosure process can commence or continue. The new law also requires loan servicers to review reliable evidence to prove that a borrower has defaulted and that the servicer has the right to foreclose. Borrowers who may qualify for a mortgage workout also must be assigned a single point of contact at the lender so that the borrower has clear and accurate information. This new law applies to all homeowners and all lenders in the state.