Forum Offers Homeowner Assistance

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[Broklyn Housing]

To assist people concerned about losing their homes, earlier this month Council Member Mathieu Eugene and the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC) hosted a homeowners forum in the community room of the councilmember’s district office in Brooklyn.

The forum began with a warm welcome from Eugene, who expressed his deep feeling of solidarity with the many blameless people who are in danger of losing their homes due to the severe financial downturn that continues to wreak havoc throughout the nation.

He asked that all those who are fortunate enough to feel secure about their own homes also pick up information and take it back to their communities to give to their neighbors, fellow church members, block associations, etc. because everyone should see themselves as working together to save Brooklyn’s neighborhoods from the blight of foreclosure.

Joining Eugene at the podium was FDC Executive Director Robin Redmond. She spoke of the many families who are also at risk of becoming secondary victims of foreclosure: tenants of landlords who, unbeknownst to their renters, are in default and may go into foreclosure, which will result in the tenants being evicted. “These families will need help as well,” Redmond said. “The key is getting out into each community and letting everyone know that there are trustworthy organizations, such as the ones here tonight, that offer free services provided by expert counselors who really care.”

A representative from each of the seven nonprofit organizations was then invited to give a brief description of their services:
• CHANGER – provides free legal clinics, mortgage counseling, homeowner and financial education classes
• COJO – offers a wide range of services, including legal services
• Erasmus Neighborhood Federation – conducts foreclosure prevention clinics and provides legal representation and court based services for homeowners
• Flatbush Development Corporation – has a free financial literacy course and provides follow-up counseling and support for first time homebuyers
• La Fuerza Unida – offers assistance in navigating both home retention and loss mitigation through loan modification refinancing
• Neighbors Helping Neighbors – assists first-time homebuyers as well as people struggling with their mortgage payments or think they may be victims of predatory lending
• Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush – makes available foreclosure prevention counselors who assess at-risk homeowners’ situations and help obtain the best solution available
• South Brooklyn Legal Services – has a Foreclosure Prevention Project that assists homeowners who have been targeted by predatory lenders.

The speakers also warned people to beware of foreclosure rescue scams that may look legitimate and offer some tempting promises but ultimately result in homeowners losing their property, their equity and sometimes their life savings.

After each organization had a chance to introduce itself and its services, forum attendees spent the rest of the evening gathering information from the various tables, getting some on-the-spot counseling, and scheduling future appointments with the HUD approved financial counselors.

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