By Victoria Falk
The Coronavirus pandemic has not only wreaked havoc over people’s physical and mental well-being; it also has devastating effects on people’s finances. Over the last few months, many businesses have closed, and many of those who have jobs have not been able to get to work due to enforced social distancing. According to the U.S.
Department of Labor reports, over 2 million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment benefits within the last three
months. Furthermore, New City Mayor De Blasio has since announced that 22,000 city workers are at risk of being
laid off their jobs. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many homeowners are having difficulty meeting required mortgage payments and are at risk of losing their homes due to foreclosure. To make matters worse, scammers see this as the perfect opportunity to prey on those in desperate need of help and steal their properties.
On September 3, 2020, Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, representing Senatorial District 19, held a live online seminar, with representatives from several community-based organizations, to provide information to the community to
help prevent foreclosure protect homeowners from scammers. Senator Persaud was especially concerned because homeowners who fall within 11236 zip code in her district reported having the highest foreclosure rate across all of Brooklyn. Also, senior citizens, who have been the scammers’ preferred victims, reside predominantly in Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Senator Persaud reported that creating a Cease and Desist Zone in East New York and teaching homeowners how to recognize scams has proven helpful. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, you are encouraged to report it. Senator Persaud said, “The Brooklyn District Attorney investigates scams. Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, investigates scams.”
“The Department of Finance has an alert after someone tries to steal your deed. Do not sign any documents for people you do not know – even if you’re trying to get a short sale of your property. Slick people come to your home saying they can help you if you sign forms. Do not, I repeat, do not, do not sign your deed over to anyone. Do not take money. If you take money, its seen as you sold the deed to your home.”, warned Angella Davidson, Program Director for the Foreclosure Intervention program of NHS Brooklyn (Neighborhood Housing Services).
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Homeowners beware of unsolicited phone calls, mail, emails, text
messages, special offers, and people knocking on the door of your home offering to help you get a forbearance on your loan. You do not have to pay anyone to request a forbearance on your mortgage loan, and several community-based organizations provide free services to homeowners. Therefore, do not delay in getting the help that you need. As soon as you feel you may be at risk of having problems, is the time to reach out to your mortgage servicer to discuss your options and one of the community-based organizations for counseling and assistance. Each of the housing professionals who participated in the recent meeting with Senator Roxanne J. Persaud agreed that
homeowners should take action immediately and reach out for help before they have a crisis.
Do not let fear or shame cause you to wait until the last minute to respond to foreclosure notices and/or apply for assistance.
If you do not respond to foreclosure notices within the time allotted, you make it easier for the bank to prove its
case against you, and your home may be sold at a foreclosure auction. The chances of you getting your house back
after it is sold at a foreclosure auction are slim, to none. Therefore, you want to respond immediately to foreclosure
Homeowners: Don’t just stop making your payments. If approved for a mortgage forbearance, it allows you to stop
making payment on your loan without the fear of foreclosure.
Those payments are still owed and are put on the end of your loan. You may also request that the mortgage be modified to make it more affordable.
Counseling is essential to help homeowners figure out which of the available options will work best for them. Each of the housing counselors agreed that the One-Shot Deal loan program, offered by the New York City Human Resources Administration, maybe another option to help homeowners get back on track financially and request reductions in utility bills. Senator Roxanne J. Persaud stressed, “We can not afford to have middle-class homeowners who worked hard, lose their homes, and walk away.” The good news for homeowners is the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions is extended until December 2020, and no property will be foreclosed on during the moratorium.
Do not delay getting assistance. There are things you can do now to save your home. If you have questions about your rights as a homeowner, landlord, or tenant, if you have been scammed, fear foreclosure, or are being harassed for your inability to pay your bills, contact the Law Firm of Figeroux and Associates for a free consultation at 855-768-8845. Get the legal help you need now!