A.G. Schneiderman Announces First Homes Saved Under The Mortgage Assistance Loan Program

A.G. Schneiderman Announces First Homes Saved Under The Mortgage Assistance Loan Program

NEW YORK — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that the first loans have been closed in the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program (NYS MAP), bringing tangible relief to New York homeowners at immediate risk of losing their homes. NYS MAP provides loans to families who are struggling to avoid foreclosure by offering them a way, for example, to pay off back property taxes or a second mortgage – debts that have kept them from receiving a mortgage modification. With a MAP loan – of up to $40,000 – families are able to stay in their homes. The program is an enhancement to the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), which provides struggling borrowers with free legal and housing counseling services, and has served more than 35,000 homeowners across the state since the launch of the program in October 2012.

“For families across New York, receiving a NYS MAP loan will means they are going to be approved for a mortgage modification and that they are going to be able to stay in their homes. It’s hard to imagine a better investment in our communities and homeowners who are continuing to struggle in the aftermath the foreclosure crisis,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We know that our Homeowner Protection Program has had real results, helping thousands of families keep their homes. I’m pleased that our Mortgage Assistance Program is now starting to send a lifeline to families in need.”

Using funds from the National Mortgage Settlement, the Attorney General launched NYS MAP in two stages, first opening up the program to families in Long Island in late September, and then to families across the rest of the state in mid-October. In just over three months, the program has received 146 applications from every corner of the state. This includes: 50 from New York City, 41 from Long Island, 14 from Monroe County and the surrounding area, 10 in the Hudson Valley, seven in the Capital Region, and four in Buffalo and the surrounding area. Since mid-November, NYS MAP has already been able to approve 26 loans, including nine on Long Island, six in Monroe County and the surrounding area, and five in New York City.

Azeez Ruheem Smith,who lives in Brentwood, Long Island, fell on hard times when his wife passed away from breast cancer — leaving him as the sole provider for his three children. When Smith suffered a temporary loss of employment, he fell behind on his mortgage and the bank moved to foreclose. Smith found his way to the Economic Opportunity Counsel, a HOPP provider in Suffolk County. The group helped him apply for a NYS MAP loan. The loan provided Smith with just over $17,000, enough to settle the mortgage arrears and terminate his foreclosure proceedings.

“Without the support of the Attorney General and the funding for HOPP and NYS MAP we would not be able to assist homeowners in such a meaningful and efficient way," said Carol Yopp, a Senior Housing Counselor at Long Island Housing Partnership. “The fact that my client submitted his full application on November 20th and the loan was closed by December 15th proves just how nimble and effective this program is at keeping New York families in their homes.”

Mary Gammariello, of Rochester, NY, also defaulted on her mortgage loan because of mounting medical bills resulting from her cancer treatments, causing her to go into foreclosure. Once she got in touch with The Housing Council, she was able to apply to NYS MAP. Her $29,000 loan will pay off her mortgage loan in full, ensuring she can stay in her home.

While working to ameliorate the effects of housing crisis, Attorney General Schneiderman’s office discovered that many families were being denied mortgage modifications as a result of small outstanding debts. Even families with reliable income streams are often denied modifications because of outstanding debts, such as unpaid property taxes, a series of missed mortgage payments, or delinquent second- or third-mortgage liens that need to be satisfied before a first mortgage holder will grant a modification. By filling the gap for families, the NYS MAP program is empowering consumers to negotiate with their mortgage holders and ultimately remain in their homes.

Eligible loan uses include, but are not limited to, paying off arrears including mortgage payments or unpaid interests and fees; paying down second or third mortgages; satisfying property tax liens or other liens that might lead to loss of homeownership; and supplying borrowers with a “matching” fund to achieve principal reduction or other beneficial first lien modification terms.

Consumers are eligible to apply for loans of varying amounts, but not to exceed $40,000 per borrower, and the Attorney General anticipates that the program will have the capacity to disburse several hundred NYS MAP loans over the next 12 months. In all cases, a NYS MAP Loan will result in homeownership retention at the time the loan is made.

The Attorney General Program is working with the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN), as well as the Empire Justice Center, to assist in the operations of NYS MAP. Both agencies are contracted by the Office of the Attorney General to assist with the administration of the HOPP and NYS MAP.

"Together with the Empire Justice Center and HOPP agencies across the state, we've launched a program that helps keep New Yorkers in their homes, and in their neighborhoods. A NYS MAP loan can make all the difference for a family fighting to keep their home,” said Christie Peale, Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “If you're behind on your mortgage, now is the time to act. Call the AG's hotline and get high-quality help today."

To access NYS MAP, homeowners will work with an existing HOPP counselor or legal aid provider to complete the application. The Attorney General’s office launched the website www.nysmap.org where prospective applicants can find out about the program and get connected to a HOPP lawyer or counselor. Consumers can also contact the New York Attorney General Consumer hotline at 855-HOME-456.