May 15, 2021
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Event highlights expansion of Homeowner Help Desk, a joint initiative with HPD, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, the New York State Attorney General, Enterprise Community Partners, and community housing groups to support homeowners at risk of displacement
Volunteers, community groups, City workers, and leaders hit streets in Bed-Stuy to raise awareness about deed theft, scams, and help for homeowners
NEW YORK, NY – Today, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) joined volunteers, community partners, elected officials, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods (the Center), the Office of New York State Attorney General (OAG) and Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) at Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn to celebrate the start of an expanded Homeowner Help Desk outreach campaign targeting 16,000 homeowners in key neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, and the North Bronx affected by COVID-19. Homeowner Help Day kicks off the campaign with a volunteer day of action involving canvassing and outreach activities to raise awareness about the Help Desk's resources.
“Supporting our homeowners is critical to the Administration’s pursuit of an equitable recovery for all of us. Today, we’re announcing an expansion of the Homeowner Help Desk, which will empower our home-owning New Yorkers with the resources necessary to combat deed theft and scams,” said Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “Especially given the uncertainty of the past year, we’re excited to bring the City’s resources directly to current and prospective homeowners to make sure New Yorkers and their families have what they need to feel secure and supported.”
“Helping homeowners in communities hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic will be key to a recovery that reaches all New Yorkers. We are thrilled to join our many partners to kick off the expanded Homeowner Help Desk, serving as an essential boots-on-the-ground force, empowering struggling homeowners where they are with resources and education,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “This Administration takes the threat of deed theft and scams seriously because we know homeownership fosters more equitable communities and builds wealth that be passed on to the next generation. With this initiative, we are accelerating a key commitment of the Mayor’s YOUR Home NYC plan to help New Yorkers get, afford, and keep their homes.”
“As we begin the road to recovery, too many homeowners are facing their most difficult financial challenges since last March. We must work with them, especially Black and Brown communities and small landlords, to create hope, strength and resilience,” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “The Homeowner Help Desk is an important tool in our arsenal to ensure that New York’s recovery is equitable, and that the economic ladder of homeownership is not just reserved for the very few. We extend our deep thanks to Mayor de Blasio, Attorney General Tish James and HPD for their foresight in helping to protect homeowners through this delicate moment.”
“No one should ever fear losing their home to scammers, especially in times of crisis such as this,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “The Help Desk outreach campaign provides New Yorkers with the support and resources needed to combat deed theft and promote the stability of our communities by supporting our city’s homeowners. I am proud that my office could put forward the funds to help support this critical program, and I thank HPD for their continued partnership and commitment to supporting New York homeowners.”
"Connecting residents in historically underserved communities to financial assistance, homeownership counseling, scam prevention guidance, and other housing resources is crucial for ensuring an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and closing the racial wealth gap,” said Elizabeth Zeldin, Director, Neighborhood Impact, Enterprise Community Partners. “We are proud to partner with HPD, the Center, and the OAG on such a pivotal initiative that will offer real help to the public at this time of great uncertainty.”
As part of the expanded initiative, new funding from Enterprise and OAG will allow seven community housing organizations to partner with HPD, the Center, and the OAG to provide struggling homeowners with critical one-on-one housing counseling, financial assistance, legal services and proactively raise awareness about deed theft and scams. The outreach campaign aims to reach homeowners in key neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, and the North Bronx affected by COVID-19. Working closely with community stakeholders like local churches, leaders, and neighborhood groups, the campaign will plan meet-and-greets, trainings, and town hall events to alert residents and community leaders to the signs of scams and how to get help.
Volunteers, community groups, and city workers visited local convenience stores, shops, and community businesses to post flyers and distribute information cards at high-traffic locations and speak with residents. Outreach information focused on resources for homeowners to protect themselves from deed theft and scams and other predatory housing practices that disproportionately impact homeowners of color as well as eviction prevention resources for tenants.
Homeowners across New York City can contact the Help Desk for assistance, but the outreach campaign will focus on priority neighborhoods identified by the Mayor's Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity according to equity burdens and the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. Helping these homeowners, who have faced disproportionate impacts from the pandemic, stay in their homes and neighborhoods is a key component of YOUR Home NYC, Mayor de Blasio’s comprehensive approach to helping New Yorkers get, afford, and keep their homes.
The seven community housing partners will hold borough-wide, virtual events to launch the Homeowner Help Desk outreach campaign in their communities.
“NHS Brooklyn is excited to be a part of the Anti-Displacement Help Desk: a collaborative effort to address foreclosure, deed theft, scams, estate issues, tax liens, and other issues that threaten the displacement of homeowners in our communities,” said Tonya Ores, Executive Director of NHS Brooklyn, CDC Inc. “These issues disrupt and displace families, and wipe away generational wealth. And COVID-19 has only made them worse. The Anti-Displacement Help Desk will support NHS Brooklyn and our partners to provide homeowners with the assistance and resources they need to stay in their homes and preserve our communities.”
“We are excited to be a part of this collaborative effort to continue to address an issue that has impacted our community for quite some time,” said Richard Trouth, Executive Director of Brooklyn Neighborhood Services (BNS). “We continue to see lives disrupted and families lose their most valuable asset. Information is key to addressing the problem, and this initiative will provide homeowners and their tenants with the invaluable resources that they need to recognize a scam, avoid it, and stay in their homes.”
“The livelihood of homeowners and the real estate market exist in two different universes. The Help Desk is a direct line to legal support for homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes to scams. Proactive outreach will benefit thousands of homeowners in Brooklyn who have been identified as vulnerable to potential deed thefts and scams,” said Tamara Del Carmen, Director of the Consumer and Economic Advocacy Program at Brooklyn A. “This lifeline comes at a time when nearly 11 percent of homeowners in New York were delinquent on their mortgages – the highest mortgage default rate since the Great Recession. We are seeing that a significant number of homeowners have either lost their jobs, or their income has been significantly reduced putting them at risk of default on mortgage payments and subject to foreclosure proceedings.”
“The pandemic has posed unique challenges to homeowners, and many will be struggling to get back on a firm financial footing for months, if not years, to come. These stresses compound longstanding issues across the five boroughs. To take one example, I have long sounded the alarm about the scourge of deed fraud, which is particularly pervasive in Black and Brown communities throughout Brooklyn, and called for a full-scale, forensic audit into the crisis of deed fraud in Brooklyn by the city, state, and federal government. I am grateful to HPD and our partners for expanding the Homeowner Help Desk campaign, and look forward to working with them to assist vulnerable homeowners across the five boroughs," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged this country, shuttering small businesses, leaving millions of Americans without employment, and making the threat of displacement and homelessness real for far too many New Yorkers,” said U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries. “The Homeowner Help Desk will be an essential resource for our communities as we continue on the path toward recovery and resiliency. I thank HPD, Attorney General Tish James and all the government and community partners for their commitment to our neighborhoods and their residents."
“I serve a community that is plagued with deed theft. The residents of the 55th Assembly district often don't receive the proper tools and information to ward off the predatory practices that have been rampant in New York,” said Assembly Woman Latrice Walker. “This initiative, "The Homeowner Help Desk", is a great beginning to address the recent issues that have arisen because of COVID - 19, and the pre-existing condition of homeowner education and retention. Housing is one of the most serious topics plaguing our State. We are all aware that the real estate environment in New York is one that is volatile, and often leaves black and brown families behind, which results in a ripple effect on the lives of the individuals and the community as a whole. I commend Attorney General Tish James, HPD, and all of the organizations that partnered with the AG's office to spread the word and to offer services, and information in the community.”
The Bed-Stuy Housing Plan
The Homeowner Help Desk expansion originated from community conversations held as a part the Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan. The neighborhood housing plan details the community’s vision for affordable housing development and includes community tailored homeowner and tenant displacement strategies. At roundtable discussions, homeowners cited the need for the type of one-on-one support that the Help Desk provides to fight back against rising housing costs, real estate speculation, deed scams, and fraud. Currently, HPD is reviewing development proposals for a homeownership and rental project on two city-owned sites designated for housing as a part of the Bed-Stuy plan.
Homeowners in need of support can call 1-855-HOME-456 or visit homeownerhelpny.org