May 9, 2012 —
Four years into the Great Recession, the outlook for homeowners facing foreclosure has not improved. In fact, according to a report from the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), “In 2011, more than 345,000 mortgages were in default or delinquent in New York State. This staggering number is based on 90-day pre-foreclosure notices that New York now requires servicers to send to homeowners.”
Some of those homeowners, who were the targets of those pre-foreclosure notices, turned up in the Town of Thompson parking lot on May 4 to talk with staff members of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) about ways they might save their homes.
One elderly man claimed that every time he contacted his lending institution he wound up talking to a different person, and it was frustrating. A woman said that her lending institution didn’t seem interested in working out a solution.
It’s a situation playing out thousands of times each day across the country, and while the foreclosure rate is slowing somewhat, several analysts say that’s because banks are having trouble coming up with the necessary documents to proceed.
In any case, Governor Andrew Cuomo sees this as a continuing problem. Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of state financial services, issued a press release saying, “Governor Cuomo believes that it’s essential that we provide as much help as possible to financially troubled homeowners,” thus the creation of the foreclosure mobile unit, an initiative that was launched in February.
David Neustadt, a spokesman for DFS, said the service attracts more residents in some areas than others. He said, “We don’t have money to advertise,” so they depend on word of mouth to get the word out. Senator John Bonacic’s office sent out a press release about this visit.
Neustadt said the main message DFS wants to send is that residents facing possible foreclosure should contact DFS as early as possible to try to work out a solution. “Once a homeowner gets into a deep hole, it can be hard to dig their way out,” he said.
In Sullivan County, the heaviest pocket of foreclosures or possible foreclosures is in Monticello and Fallsburg. There are other pockets with somewhat fewer cases in the towns of Lumberland, Tusten, Cochecton, Rockland and Mamakating.
So is there any light at the end of the tunnel? A footnote on the NEDAP study reads, “A national study of 27 million loans made between 2004 and 2008 shows that the U.S. is not even halfway through the foreclosure crises.”
Go to www.dfs.ny.gov  for more information or call the 24-hour toll-free Hope Now hotline at 888/995-HOPE (888/995-4673). Hope Now is an alliance of counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage lenders approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.