Communities First will preserve homeownership and prevent homelessness
Income instability, gentrification, unscrupulous real estate investors and mortgage servicers, and the federal suppression of immigrant communities continue to cause a toxic blend of displacement, homelessness, and vacancy. Families continue to need assistance with mortgage arrears, property tax arrears, and low-cost loan applications.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Jeff Turner
Here’s What We’ll Do:
The state’s network of housing counselors and legal service providers is highly experienced in obtaining affordable mortgage workout options and preventing home loss in foreclosure proceedings. The network will provide services to new homeowners and homeowners at risk of foreclosure to help sustain affordable homeownership, with a focus on women, communities of color, immigrant, seniors, and low-income communities.
Reverse mortgage foreclosures are on the rise throughout New York State, putting extremely vulnerable senior homeowners at risk of homelessness. The network will provide representation in settlement conferences and other advocacy to avert foreclosure. It will also screen for abuses in the origination and servicing of reverse mortgages and provide information to seniors considering obtaining a reverse mortgage on their home.
Property Tax & Water Bills
Families, especially seniors, are displaced through county tax lien sales when they cannot afford property taxes and water bills. The network will assist families to gain access to low-cost loans to cover these bills, or affordable payment plans. The network will also screen homeowners for tax abatement and exemption eligibility for seniors, veterans, and the disabled.
Low-cost repair programs are available through housing counseling programs throughout the state. These programs keep families safe and healthy, and are excellent alternatives to a refinance.
Housing counselors are trained to identify real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, and other scams, and make referrals to legal service providers who save homes using litigation and other strategies. The network will also provide outreach and education to ensure communities know their rights and avoid fraudulent practices, and will partner with law enforcement to redress schemes that target and displace vulnerable populations and erode affordable housing.
Banks, loan servicers, and mortgage debt buyers have all significantly limited modification options since the end of HAMP; modifications are now both less available and less affordable. In this environment, preserving property ownership entails stabilizing and maximizing household income whenever possible. Network providers will assist families to stabilize income including by providing consumer debt relief and providing assistance to small businesses, such as corporate governance, tax, and real estate issues. This greatly impacts women, minority and immigrant small business owners, who often cannot afford traditional legal assistance.