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Press Release
New State Coalition Seeks High-Quality Homeownership Education for New Yorkers

February 11, 2008

New York, N.Y.: Today, the New York State Coalition for Excellence in Homeownership Education (NYS-CXHE)—a broad-based coalition of nonprofit organizations, lending institutions and state agencies—held the first in a series of regional meetings to launch a statewide effort to promote homeownership education, as well as to present the findings of a study entitled The Current State of Homeownership Education and Counseling Services in New York State.

“Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American dream. Ensuring that families have the tools they need to purchase an affordable home enriches local communities, cities and the state, as well as the national economy,” said Deborah Boatright of NeighborWorks America, which underwrote the report on behalf of the Coalition. “This diverse coalition has come together to make sure that New Yorkers have the high-quality education necessary for making sound financial decisions before, during and after the home-buying process.”

“The importance of this coalition is amplified by the number of people currently impacted both directly and indirectly by the ongoing mortgage crisis. We cannot afford to relax our efforts in assisting the thousands of New Yorkers dealing with the unnecessary loss of their homes. This is a complex issue that needs to be addressed from various fronts by harnessing resources, building partnerships and working together,” said Richard Neiman, superintendent of banks for New York and chair of the HALT Task Force.

A panel, which included guests from the Coalition’s founding partners – the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA), the New York State Banking Department and the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal – met with industry representatives and community groups to exchanges ideas on homebuyer education and financial literacy. Deborah Boatright, Northeast district director for NeighborWorks® America was also present to discuss the new National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling.

“Borrowers should understand the financial responsibility that comes with owning a home.  Homeownership counseling helps with that education, and with standards, we help ensure that New Yorkers receive quality counseling. The counseling community is an important partner in our mission to expand responsible and sustainable homeownership in New York State. I applaud the coalition for focusing attention on the need to improve quality counseling,” said SONYMA President and CEO Priscilla Almodovar.

Deborah VanAmerongen, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal said, “Homeownership counseling helps assure that first-time home buyers of low and moderate-income are adequately prepared for the many responsibilities of owning a home. Today this coalition takes an important step toward excellence in homeownership counseling by adopting a uniform set of standards that will help guarantee top-notch service for the people of New York.”

The group also reviewed the results of the Current State of Homeownership Education and Counseling Services report. The comprehensive study, based on answers from an online survey of 120 counseling agencies, literature research, cost-benefit analyses, and interviews, concluded that there is a need for greater funding of homeownership education and counseling services, especially as New York state and the nation are facing a foreclosure crisis.

The report highlighted several key findings:

  • Homeownership education and counseling have many benefits to consumers, including improving financial health and money management skills, as well as reducing loan delinquencies and defaults.
  • There are an estimated 170 counseling agencies across New York State offering a broad range of services, with possibly varying quality standards.
  • Most counseling agencies struggle to support their services with funding from a variety of sources. This unstable and sporadic funding rarely covers the true costs of services – leading to understaffing and frequent turnover.
  • A statewide collaborative effort could promote standard services, provide training and continuing education for counselors, highlight best practices and promote more sustainable funding.

“In this most trying of times in the homeownership arena, the Long Island Housing Partnership is proud to be part of this mission to bring professional and standardized counseling to all New Yorkers,” said Lynn Law, Director of Education and Counseling. “Without exception, the homeowners who call us because they are in trouble never had the benefit of pre-purchase homeownership education.” 

The Coalition was created in 2007 to ensure that comprehensive and quality financial literacy, pre- and post-purchase homeownership education and counseling services are available to all New Yorkers. In order to achieve its mission, the organization proposes to promote high-quality standards for counseling services; provide access to training, testing and accreditation for providers; increase overall capacity to ensure statewide coverage for counseling services; elevate the professionalism of the industry; and promote sustainable funding for counseling agencies across the state.

Coalition founding members include: ALLAHEAD, Citi, Community Development Corporation of Long Island, Community Housing Innovations, Inc, Countrywide Bank,  HSBC Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Long Island Housing Partnership, Marids Consulting, Mortgage Zone of New York City, NeighborWorks Alliance of New York State, NeighborWorks America, Neighborhood Housing Services of  New York City, New York Mortgage Coalition, NYS Rural Advocates, NYS Rural Housing Coalition, North Fork Bank, and Rural Opportunities Inc.

For more information about the Coalition, contact Hilary Lamishaw at 518 272-8289, extension 14 or Blair Sebastian at 518.458.8696, extension 11.