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Press Release

October 22, 2013

Contact: Matt Anderson, 212-709-1691

GOVERNOR CUOMO DEPLOYS MOBILE COMMAND CENTER TO BUFFALO AND CHEEKTOWAGA TO ASSIST HOMEOWNERS FACING FORECLOSURE

Department of Financial Services Help Available for Homeowners During Mobile Command Center Visits to Three Sites Oct. 23, 24 and 25

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is deploying the Department of Financial Services (DFS) Mobile Command Center (MCC) to sites in Buffalo and the Town of Cheektowaga to help provide foreclosure prevention assistance to struggling homeowners.

Department representatives will be available to meet homeowners in the MCC at these locations:

· Wednesday, Oct. 23 -- ELIM Christian Fellowship, 70 Chalmers Ave., Buffalo.

· Thursday, Oct. 24 -- Town of Cheektowaga Town Hall, 3301 Broadway, Cheektowaga.

· Friday, Oct. 25 -- American Legion, 533 Amherst St., Buffalo.

DFS personnel will be available each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are committed to doing everything we can – in every corner of our state – to help homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are deploying skilled staff to Western New York to provide hands-on advice and direct assistance to New York families fighting to save their homes.”

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said: “Governor Cuomo launched the foreclosure prevention initiative to help ensure that New Yorkers that run into financial difficulties have a fair shot to save their homes. The Department of Financial Services will be on the ground in Western New York to deliver practical, common sense guidance on the resources available to families facing foreclosure.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said: “Our neighbors in Buffalo, Cheektowaga and throughout Western New York know first-hand the impact of foreclosure not just on individual families, but on entire neighborhoods. When hard times fall on homeowners, they need a place to turn for relief and guidance before it’s too late. There are options available, and the DFS Mobile Command Center will be coming to Western New York to provide struggling homeowners with the help they need to stave off foreclosure. Governor Cuomo understands the urgency of helping homeowners, and I’m proud to join him in encouraging residents to take advantage of our state’s foreclosure prevention program.”

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said: “With the arrival of the Mobile Command Center in Erie County, Governor Cuomo is delivering a valuable tool to residents who need assistance in the fight against foreclosure but had been uncertain on where to turn. This foreclosure prevention initiative will help in diminishing the disruption and dislocation that foreclosure inflicts on homeowners and neighborhoods, causing family strife and neighborhood erosion. The tools to help homeowners work out their foreclosure issues are being brought right here this week, into our community where they will be accessible to anyone who needs them. I commend Governor Cuomo for his proactive approach to the foreclosure problem and I encourage anyone who needs the help to stop by and get it.”

Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary F. Holtz said: “Governor Cuomo understands the serious impact foreclosures have had on families in Erie County and we are pleased to cooperate with the state’s Department of Financial Services to host a visit by the Mobile Command Center. So often, homeowners feel lost in a maze when trying to work out an issue with their mortgage holder. The mobile unit offers them the promise of assistance that could make a difference.”

The DFS foreclosure prevention program has been used to extend help to homeowners facing foreclosure since Governor Cuomo launched the program last year. The outreach program has visited locations throughout the state with high foreclosure rates.

Governor Cuomo will also deploy the DFS Mobile Command Center to additional locations in the coming days and weeks to help continue reaching struggling homeowners. Specific locations and dates will be announced shortly.

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.

DFS also urged homeowners to be cautious of mortgage rescue scams, which may be marketed by private businesses. For example, 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.

Additionally, New Yorkers should 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.

Homeowners unable to meet personally with DFS representatives are urged to the call the Department’s toll-free foreclosure hotline, 1-800-342-3736, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Homeowners may also file complaints using the Department website at www.ny.dfs.gov.

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