December 11, 2008Center to Distribute $2.3 Million to 19 Not-for Profit Organizations in All Five Boroughs That Will Provide Legal Help, Mortgage Counseling and Education for At-Risk Homeowners
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Center for NYC Neighborhoods Executive Director Michael Hickey today announced $2.3 million in grants to 19 not-for-profit service providers to help homeowners at risk of mortgage foreclosure throughout the five boroughs. The grants, which will be distributed by the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, the not-for-profit organization created by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn in December 2007, will fund legal assistance, mortgage counseling and education services for the residents of New York City. The center has provided housing counseling and legal services to roughly 1,000 New York City families in the second half of 2008, and with the new grants, the center will have the capacity to provide services to more than 6,000 families in 2009. In addition, next year the center will begin providing education services to up to 20,000 New Yorkers. Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn also announced that the center will establish a dedicated call center to handle foreclosure-related calls that come into 311, New York City's customer service hotline. Also attending the announcement, which took place at the offices of grant recipient Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, were Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan, New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen, Council Member Lew Fidler, and Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Executive Director Colvin Grannum, representing the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford Stuyvesant.
"Although our City has not experienced the volume of home foreclosures that have devastated many other parts of the nation, too many New York families are in danger of losing their homes and the risk of foreclosure is increasing quickly," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Our Center for New York City Neighborhoods is working with New York City service providers to reduce that risk and help those who need it most. The 19 grants we are announcing today will fund legal assistance, mortgage counseling and education services for New Yorkers in all five boroughs. The threat of home foreclosure can be devastating to New York City's families and neighborhoods, and we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to minimize it."
"Homeowners facing foreclosure often feel like they're at the end of the road," said Speaker Quinn. "Now, with the center for New York City Neighborhoods up and running, New Yorkers in these impossible situations have somewhere to turn. Stopping foreclosures before they get to the point of no return is not only good for individual families, it will help stabilize our economy during a time of financial uncertainty. If you're facing foreclosure, call 311 and see how CNYCN can help you."
"Progressive leadership on the part of the Mayor, the City Council, and our public and private partners has been critical to our initial success," said Center for NYC Neighborhoods Executive Director Hickey. "While we have a long road ahead of us, we are fortunate in New York to have one of the strongest nonprofit networks in the country offering free, accessible support to homeowners at risk of foreclosure."
"We are extremely grateful to Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for their leadership on this important issue and to Governor Patterson and DHCR Commissioner VanAmerongen for the support that the State has provided for mortgage foreclosure prevention in New York City," said Commissioner Donovan. "The center has been an important partner in our work to preserve affordable housing and neighborhood stability throughout the city. The many families who have been helped so far through the work of the center and its service partners can attest to the importance of such ground-breaking partnerships among government, non-profits, banks and philanthropic institutions. Preventing mortgage foreclosure is too important a task to leave up to just one player."
"The sub prime mortgage crisis may have precipitated the economic crisis we are in, but make no mistake, the worsening economy will exacerbate the problem," said Council Member Fidler. "The center has helped hundreds of families already and there are many more to help. While Washington looks to bail out the financial institutions, it is organizations like the center, here at the local level, that are able to help those in danger of losing their homes."
"With the onslaught of gentrification and demographic change in our communities, it is extremely important that homeowners at risk have a haven and expanded services to meet the growing need for default counseling," said Council Member Reyna. "I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and my colleagues at the Council for making this funding possible and working together to protect New York's most vital asset--the local neighborhood fabric and the diversity of homeowners in our communities."
Although New York City's foreclosure rate remains lower than many other major US cities, the number of high-cost loans increased steadily between 2004 and 2006, with about one in three loans originated in 2006 identified as high-cost. This has led to a significant increase in foreclosure filings, particularly in neighborhoods such as Jamaica, Baychester, East New York and the North Shore of Staten Island. New York City saw nearly 15,000 lis pendens filings-legal notice of an intent to initiate foreclosure proceedings-in 2007, up from 7,000 in 2005. In 2008, the City has experienced a further 33 percent increase, with filings projected to hit 20,000 by the end of the year.
New Yorkers can be connected to the appropriate center for NYC Neighborhoods service providers by calling 311 or visiting any of the service providers directly. With $645,000 in State funds, the center will create a new call center that, in addition to routing calls that come through 311 or directly to the center, will track each case and follow up on what services were provided and the status of those who need assistance. Operators of the new call center will also be proactive in reaching out to new Yorkers that may be particularly at risk of foreclosure to let them know what services are available to them. The call center will be operational by the end of January 2009.
"Fortunately for all New Yorkers, Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg and the members of the State Legislature and City Council understand that the foreclosure crisis threatens to devastate many communities in our city, and indeed in every corner of the State," said New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen. "We at DHCR have been working closely with the City and with agencies like the Center for NYC Neighborhoods to address the crisis and help New Yorkers to keep their homes."
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods is an independent, not-for-profit organization charged with funding a major expansion and coordination of counseling and referral services, legal assistance, loan remediation, preventive outreach and education, training, research and advocacy around sub-prime lending and mortgage foreclosures. It serves as a clearinghouse for foreclosure prevention best practices, conducts ongoing training to build capacity of local groups and implements quality controls to ensure that New Yorkers are receiving first-rate counseling and legal services. Renters facing eviction due to an owner's foreclosure can also take advantage of the center. The center does not provide funding directly to lenders or homeowners, but the center's partners assess the capacity of the borrower to pay for a home and to identify best options for the borrower to preserve their home equity, credit and savings, and to avoid scams, bankruptcy and foreclosure where possible.
The center is funded through a partnership of City and State government, banks and philanthropic institutions. More than $7 million has been raised for the center and its partners - exceeding the original goal of $5.3 million - including $2.6 million provided from the City, more than $3 million from private foundations and roughly $1.5 million from banks and other lenders.
The 19 organizations receiving grants are: AAFE Community Development Fund, ACORN, Brooklyn Housing and Family Services, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford Stuyvesant, Common Law, Grow Brooklyn, Jewish Association for Services for the Aged-Legal Services for the Elderly in Queens, Legal Aid Society, Margert Community Corporation,
Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, NHS of East Flatbush and Flatbush Development Corporation, NHS of Staten Island, Parodneck Foundation for Self-Help Housing and Community Development, South Brooklyn Community Organization, South Brooklyn Legal Services, Staten Island Legal Services and United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. Other organizations that already received Center for NYC Neighborhood grants and are continuing to provide services are: CAMBA, Cypress Hills LDC, Legal Services NYC - Bronx, NHS of Jamaica, NHS of the North Bronx, Pratt Area Community Council, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.