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Press Release

September 24, 2012

Contact: Ron Klug, 518-486-6976

CUOMO ADMINISTRATION FORECLOSURE PREVENTION PROGRAM TO HELP ALBANY COUNTY HOMEOWNERS

Foreclosure Prevention Assistance Available to Homeowners in Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Command Center 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28 at Colonie Town Hall in Latham.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Department of Financial Services is reaching out to help Albany County area homeowners struggling to save their homes from foreclosure by joining forces with HomeSave, a 12-member coalition of non-profit legal, housing, and community groups.

Department representatives and members of the HomeSave will be available to meet homeowners from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28 in the Department’s Mobile Command Center (MCC), which will be located at Colonie Town Hall, 534 New Loudon Rd., Latham.

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 Neil D. Breslin said: "The foreclosure prevention program affords homeowners a first hand opportunity to learn about some options that may be available to help them save their home. It is critical that during difficult times homeowners know there may be help available. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Lawsky for bringing the Department's Mobile Command Center to the Capital District to help area residents."

Stephanie Galvin of the Albany County Rural Housing Alliance said: “Becoming educated about the process and options is the best way to avoid scams and deeper financial difficulties. The sooner homeowners act the greater number of options they will have to resolve issues. It can be a scary and overwhelming process and we applaud the efforts of Governor Cuomo to assist homeowners who are trying to successfully negotiate a meaningful plan to remain in their home.”

The members of HomeSave participating include: the Legal Project, the Affordable Housing Partnership (AHP Homeownership Center), Albany County Rural Housing Alliance, Inc. (ACRHA), TRIP NeighborWorks Homeownership Center, Inc. (TRIP), Better Neighborhoods Inc. (BNI),  Empire Justice Center, Community Realty, Community Loan Fund, Housing Resources of Columbia County, United Tenants, Albany Law School and the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York.

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.

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