February 11, 2021
Press Office: hpdmedia@Hpd.nyc.gov
Outreach and services will target Southeast Queens, Central Brooklyn, and the North Bronx
NYC among 10 cities and counties selected by New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network for program funding and support
NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Center for NYC Neighborhoods (the Center) announced funding for an expanded Homeowner Help Desk to assist homeowners at risk of displacement. With new funding from Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) and the Office of the New York State Attorney General (OAG), the Help Desk will feature proactive outreach in Southeast Queens, Central Brooklyn, and the North Bronx.
In addition to continuing to connect struggling homeowners with housing counseling, financial assistance, and legal services, the Help Desk will develop creative outreach strategies to raise awareness about the signs of deed theft and scams. Historically, the selected areas have been disproportionately impacted by predatory lending practices, scams, and racially discriminatory public policies. By expanding their outreach efforts, HPD and the Center will work together to stabilize communities and help stop a harmful cycle of displacement.
“This administration takes the threat of deed theft and scams seriously, and we want to make sure struggling homeowners get the help they need to keep their homes, maintain safe, quality housing, and build equity that can be passed on to the next generation, said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “Especially in light of the economic effects of COVID-19, we are glad to work with the Center and so many others to actively reach out to vulnerable homeowners.”
“With this initiative, the expanded Homeowner Help Desk will be able to deploy significant resources to families in neighborhoods where help is most needed,” said Christie Peale, Executive Director/CEO for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “We will be particularly focused on tackling historically-rooted disparities that leave families, particularly Black and brown homeowners, at risk of displacement from their communities, including from deed theft and scams. None of this work would be possible without the generous funding support of Enterprise and the OAG, and our partners at HPD.”
"As communities continue to reel from this public health crisis, no one should have to experience the threat of losing their homes to callous scammers," said Attorney General Letitia James. "The Homeowner Help Desk is an important program that allows New Yorkers to better combat deed theft and address the unique needs of our most at-risk communities. I am proud that my office could put forward the funds to help support this important program, and I thank HPD for their continued partnership in supporting New York homeowners.”
“Enterprise is pleased to provide funding to HPD and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods as part of our New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network,” said Elizabeth Zeldin, Director, Enterprise Community Partners. “The Homeowner Help Desk is a critical strategy to prevent displacement and promote stable homeownership in key NYC neighborhoods.”
"Protecting homeowners from deed fraud, theft and other tactics used to displace long-time residents is a priority for our office. I'm grateful to HPD, the Attorney General, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods and Enterprise Community Partners for expanding Homeowner Help Desk outreach and building on our efforts to stabilize communities in Central Brooklyn." Said State Senator Zellnor Myrie.
“In middle class communities like those I represent, folks' homes are their nest eggs. House speculation, deed theft, and other types of fraud are an imminent threat to the financial security of many at-risk, middle and fixed-income homeowners,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie. “I applaud NYC HPD for working to share resources and valuable information on how homeowners can protect themselves with the residents of my district and New Yorkers throughout the city.”
“Deed theft has become an increasingly problematic issue in the Northeast Bronx and across the city,” said State Senator Jamaal Bailey. “In a day and age where the COVID-19 pandemic is still plaguing our communities, we need to ensure that our residents are protected, aware of deed theft, and do not become displaced. I would like to thank Attorney General Letitia James for her advocacy and action in order to combat this through her “Protect Our Homes” initiative. I would also like to thank the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, for their work in the anti-displacement program and educating the public on how to prevent these deed scams and thefts.”
"All too often, predatory bad actors attempt to manipulate and deceive homeowners during their time of crisis, worsening an already difficult situation,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Co-chair of the NYCC Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. “With the expansion of this initiative and its tailored, pro-active outreach to vulnerable homeowners, we have another powerful tool in our toolbox to protect and preserve the livelihoods of Southeast Queens residents. I commend Attorney General Letitia James for her longstanding leadership dating back to her time as Public Advocate and the work we were able to accomplish together on behalf of Southeast Queens residents.”
New York City is among ten municipalities and counties across the state implementing anti-displacement strategies as a part of the New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network, a group selected by Enterprise and the OAG. Of Enterprise’s $10 million commitment to this effort, $800,000 was awarded to the Center to lead and coordinate the Homeowner Help Desk in partnership with HPD. Through the Anti-Displacement Learning Network, government officials, community leaders, and nonprofit partners work collaboratively to move the dial on tackling local displacement triggers and developing models that can be replicated across the country. Enterprise also awarded $800,000 to HPD in 2019 for the Partners in Preservation Program as part of the city’s anti-displacement initiatives.
Breaking Cycles of Neighborhood Displacement
Predominantly Black and Latinx neighborhoods in Southeast Queens, Central Brooklyn, and the North Bronx have been scarred by cycles of redlining, discriminatory disinvestment, predatory real estate development, and gentrification. This history, coupled with rapid demographic change in recent years, has led to significant challenges: rising housing costs, real estate speculation, deed scams, and fraud. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has burdened struggling homeowners in these communities with the additional stressors of illnesses, lost jobs, lost wages, and lost rental income from impacted tenants.
The Help Desk will tailor its outreach and services to the most at-risk communities of color, focusing on the specific need to disrupt patterns of fraud, speculation, and displacement and protect home equity built over decades. As a part of HPD’s Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Initiative, the agency held roundtable discussions with community stakeholders and homeowners on displacement pressures and outreach solutions. During these conversations, homeowners emphasized the need for the type of one-on-one support that the Help Desk provides, prompting the Center and HPD to seek funding for an expanded Help Desk through the Anti-Displacement Learning Network.
During the program development phase, HPD and the Center discussed strategy with national research and action institute PolicyLink and worked with the OAG to identify 16,000 homeowners vulnerable to deed theft and scams. The Center and HPD will seek partnerships with local libraries, senior centers, elected officials, faith-based institutions, and other community groups to raise awareness about deed theft and scam prevention. Finally, the Help Desk will be staffed by nonprofit housing experts who will provide one-on-one homeowner assistance. Due to the COVID-19 safety precautions, services will be provided virtually at first with more in-person engagement when social distancing guidelines allow.
The Help Desk will officially launch in Spring of 2021. Interested homeowners can learn more by calling the CNYCN hotline at 1-855-HOME-456.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked advancing the goals of the City’s housing plan – a critical pillar of Your Home NYC, Mayor de Blasio’s comprehensive approach to helping New Yorkers get, afford, and keep housing in these challenging times. For full details visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.
About the Center for NYC Neighborhoods
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods promotes and protects affordable homeownership in New York so that middle- and working-class families are able to build strong, thriving communities. Established by public and private partners, the Center meets the diverse needs of homeowners throughout New York State by offering free, high quality housing services. Visit www.cnycn.org for more information.
About the New York Office of the Attorney General
As head of the Department of Law, the Attorney General is both the “People's Lawyer” and the State's chief legal officer. As the “People's Lawyer,” the Attorney General serves as the guardian of the legal rights of the citizens of New York, its organizations and its natural resources. In fulfilling the duties of the State’s chief legal counsel, the Attorney General not only advises the Executive branch of State government, but also defends actions and proceedings on behalf of the State. The legal functions of the Department of Law are divided primarily into five major divisions: Appeals and Opinions, State Counsel, Criminal Justice, Economic Justice and Social Justice. In 2019, Letitia James became the 67th Attorney General for the State of New York.
About Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise is a national nonprofit on a mission to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging for all. To make that possible, we operate the only organization designed to address America’s affordable housing crisis from every angle: we develop and deploy programs and support community organizations on the ground; we advocate for policy on a nonpartisan basis at every level of government; we invest capital to build and preserve rental homes people can afford; and we own, operate and provide resident services for affordable communities. All so that people not only make rent, they build futures. With this end-to-end approach, 40 years of experience and thousands of local partners, Enterprise has built and preserved 662,000 affordable homes, invested $53 billion in communities and changed millions of lives. Join us at EnterpriseCommunity.org.