Elected Officials, Advocates Call for Expanded Funding for Homeowner Services in NYC Budget

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[New York Housing News]
City Council Members Adrienne Adams, Donovan Richards and Rafael Espinal are supporting current funding appeal from housing advocates...
Photo: Facebook

Councilwoman Adrienne Adams says "preserving homeownership" is vital to "stability of our communities."

City Council Members Adrienne Adams, Donovan Richards and Rafael Espinal joined with advocates for low- and moderate-income homeowners on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, to call on the mayor and speaker to include $10 million in funding in the New York City budget to help New York families to keep their homes and fight displacement.

The funding would expand current programs for low- and moderate-income homeowners throughout the city, including foreclosure prevention, sustainability and resiliency services, as well as policy and education. Funding would also support the incubation and expansion of community land trusts, the purchase of distressed mortgages, and repair loan programs.

“Preserving homeownership opportunities for people throughout New York City is of critical importance,” said Council Member Adams. “Expanding funding for homeowner services in the budget is a vital commitment that must be made to keep New Yorkers in their homes and maintain the stability of our communities.”

“There is a lack of infrastructure to support low-income homeowners, many of whom live in my district,” said Council Member Espinal. “This $10 million will be allocated to a group of New Yorkers that are often left out of the conversation when we talk about affordability and gentrification. Increasing outreach and education about foreclosure prevention and other services is integral to supporting these working families and fighting against speculation.”

“Becoming a homeowner is one of the main paths to the middle class, but in New York City, there are far too little programs helping New Yorkers own and maintain their own home,” said Council Member Richards. “It’s time the City Council dedicated funding to help keep New Yorkers in their homes and fight back against speculation and displacement. From foreclosure and tax lien assistance to community land trusts, it’s time to start building up our local organizations to provide the help needed in our communities. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and organizations, such as the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Habitat for Humanity, NYLAG, NHS of Queens and more, to fight displacement head on.”

“We must not lose sight of the fact that New York City‘s diversity extends to its finite housing stock, and homeowners face no less danger of displacement than renters,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “In Southeast Queens, where ownership rates are among the highest in the nation, home equity has inestimable value to generations of families of color. For over a decade, the City Council has supported programs that both promote and prevent the loss of affordable homeownership, but these initiatives require dedicated and robust streams of funding in order to have the broadest impact possible. I join my Council colleagues as well as my associates at The Center in calling on the City to invest - as part of any new budget agreement - $10 million towards our collective efforts to achieve the complete restoration of communities ravaged by the foreclosure crisis, and replenish their wealth.”

Homeownership represents both a critical source of housing, stability, and the largest asset-building opportunity for many working New Yorkers. Yet tens of thousands of families are at risk of losing their homes to mortgage foreclosure, scams, tax liens, and reverse mortgage foreclosures. In 2017, 40,000 NYC families were in danger of foreclosure, while foreclosure auctions were at their highest rate since 2006.

People of color are particularly at risk of losing out on the benefits of affordable homeownership. Historical obstacles to homeownership and the lack of access to safe mortgage financing continue to hold back communities of color from benefiting from homeownership to the extent that white households do.

Black and Hispanic households make up only 30% of the city’s homeowners, while they make up 45% of households in the city. The difference in homeownership rates is a critical driver of the racial wealth gap, an immense obstacle to a just and equitable NYC: Forty-five percent of families of color have zero or negative net worth compared to only 23% of white families in New York City.

Expanded funding for affordable homeownership would support a range of initiatives to help address the critical issues mentioned above like:

(1)$3 million would support home repairs for lower-income homeowners.

(2) $2 million would go toward the purchasing of distressed mortgages to keep New York City homeowners in place.

(3) $1 million would go toward incubating and expanding community land trusts to create and preserve permanently affordable housing.

(4) $4 million would be invested in services to support homeowners facing foreclosure and to provide special resources for senior homeowners.

The funding would also support community-based organizations throughout the five boroughs; increase capacity for the Homeowner Help Desk, a mobile unit of trained professionals who provide onsite housing counseling; and the development of new mortgage and loan products designed for working families.

“We applaud the City Council for its vision of affordable homeownership as a key contributor to an equitable city,” said Christie Peale, CEO/Executive Director, Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “We cannot accept the status quo where homeowners are displaced from their homes, particularly in communities of color, because they lack access to services and financing. The Council’s support is vital to ensuring that working families get a chance to own even a small piece of NYC and that neighborhoods can continue to thrive.”

“Even as the economy right sides itself, we are still inundated with customers that require foreclosure intervention services,” said Angella Davidson, Foreclosure Intervention Program Director, NHS Brooklyn. “As a result, we urge the City Council and Mayor De Blasio to fund the Homeowner Stabilization and Support Initiative to keep NYC homeowners and families in place and prevent displacement.“

“The New York Legal Assistance Group applauds all the support and guidance that homeowners have received from the City Council and Mayor De Blasio. Our partnership has allowed numerous homeowners and their families to remain in their homes amid a turbulent time in our City,” said Rose Marie Cantanno, Associate Director for Foreclosure Prevention at NYLAG. “Unfortunately, the need is greater than ever. Whether it is representing an extended hard working family who has fallen behind on its mortgage, advocating for senior citizens to allow them to age in place or fending off the unscrupulous individuals who, in essence, steal our citizens homes through elaborate deed theft scams, the continued support of the many established housing programs needs to be continued and supported.”

“Through its many programs, the Center for New York City Neighborhoods works tirelessly to protect and expand affordable homeownership throughout New York City,” said Ali Naini of Mobilization for Justice. “There is no better way for the City to support its communities than by supporting the Center.”

“No one should live in a home with a leaking roof, broken plumbing, ineffective heating or electrical system. We urge NYC Council to continue providing critical home repairs funds through Project HELP Initiative so our LMI families in need of emergency repairs can make their homes safe and healthy, which also stabilizes and strengthen our communities,” said Yoselin Genao Estrella, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens CDC. Thanks to the City Council’s home repair loan program we have been helping hundreds of families with true emergencies that threaten residents’ health or safety.” But we have a long waiting list for these critical services. For this reason, we commend the Center for NYC Neighborhoods’ leadership in requesting enhancement funds so we all can properly meet the needs of clients and our communities. “

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.

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