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Press Release

September 10, 2012

Contact: Ron Klug, 518-486-6976

CUOMO ADMINISTRATION FORECLOSURE PREVENTION PROGRAM TO HELP JAMAICA QUEENS HOMEOWNERS

Foreclosure Prevention Assistance Available to Homeowners in Department of Financial Services' Mobile Command Center 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14 at 155-10 Jamaica Avenue, Queens

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Department of Financial Services is reaching out to help Queens homeowners struggling to save their homes from foreclosure.

Department representatives will be available to meet homeowners from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14 at 155-10 Jamaica Avenue, between Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue, in Queens in the Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Command Center (MCC).

Governor Cuomo said "It is essential that we provide as much help as possible to financially-troubled homeowners. The objective is to provide direct help to homeowners and get the word out to others that it’s important to ask for help as quickly as possible. The longer a homeowner waits, the harder it may be to save a home."

Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to launch the foreclosure prevention program in January as a means of extending help to homeowners in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure. Since then, the program has visited more than a dozen sites with high foreclosure rates throughout the state.

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said: “It’s important that homeowners who start to see financial problems know that there are more options available to them if they act sooner, rather than later. The foreclosure prevention program allows homeowners to meet one-on-one with foreclosure prevention specialists who are knowledgeable and can offer practical guidance.”

Senator Malcolm Smith said: "I applaud the Governor and his administration for their aggressive actions in what is a homeowner crisis. It is imperative that we continue to provide homeowners with the necessary tools to sustain their homes and raise their families, all of which contribute to a strong and vibrant City and State."

Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook said: “Thanks to Governor Cuomo for bringing the Department of Financial Services to Jamaica Queens. Our community has suffered greatly from the significant number of foreclosures. Jamaica Queens has been one of the areas hardest hit and has one of the highest rates of mortgage foreclosures in the state. We fight daily against the residual issues. We welcome the Department of Financial Services assistance in helping us insure this phenomenon never occurs again. Their assistance gives homeowners facing foreclosure the access to representatives to explain and give advice on how to intercede on their behalf, how to obtain mortgage modifications and to be wary of mortgage rescue scams.”

New York City Council Member Leroy Comrie said: “Foreclosure continues to be a critical issue in Queens; our homeowners need every possible means of assistance they can get to stave off foreclosure and also to navigate the court system if they fall into it. The earlier homeowners get counseling and assistance, the greater their chances of saving their homes. I would like to applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue, and thank him as well my colleagues in the state legislature, for including $9 million in funding for the state’s Foreclosure Prevention Services Program in this year’s budget. The Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Command Center (MCC) coming to Queens will provide a tremendous opportunity for homeowners to directly get the assistance that is desperately needed.”

Patricia Kerr, Program Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica (NHSJ), a 38-year-old non-profit organization with offices in southeast Queens that provides foreclosure prevention services to communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, said: “NHSJ is making a significant difference in the lives of the residents, so we welcome Governor Cuomo’s strong support in fighting the foreclosure crisis. We are in a pivotal position on the ground, responding to the needs of the community and we appreciate this opportunity to work with DFS to help Queens homeowners.”

State Resources Available to Homeowners

The state’s foreclosure prevention program enables homeowners to have confidential meetings with DFS representatives who assess where homeowners are in the pre-foreclosure or foreclosure process. Depending on individuals’ specific situations, the specialists may offer homeowners assistance in such areas as:

· Applying for mortgage modifications or providing help to homeowners who have already sought mortgage modifications.
· Interceding on behalf of homeowners with their mortgage lenders or servicers.
· Assisting homeowners in communicating with mortgage lenders or servicers.
· Accepting complaints from homeowners who believe they were victimized by mortgage lending abuses, so complaints can be investigated by the Department.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counselors will also be available to offer assistance to homeowners.

Homeowners unable to meet personally with DFS representatives are urged to the call the Department’s toll-free foreclosure hotline, 1-800-269-0990 or 518-457-1654, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Homeowners may also file complaints using the Department website, www.dfs.ny.gov.

The Department urged homeowners to be wary of mortgage rescue scams, which may be marketed by private businesses. For example, the Department said homeowners should:

· Be wary of anyone asking for an upfront fee in exchange for getting a loan modification, saving a home from default or stopping a foreclosure or tax sale. New York law prohibits the collection of such fees in most cases. Also, many not-for-profit housing counselors will help homeowners negotiate with lenders for free.
· Be wary of anyone who says they can save a home if a homeowner signs or transfers the deed to his or her house over to them so the homeowner can catch up on mortgage payments or refinance a loan. A homeowner should never submit mortgage payments to anyone other than the homeowner’s mortgage company without its approval.

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