‘Tis the season for……FORECLOSURE?!

As the popular American saying goes,“Tis the season.” For some,‘Tis the season for family time, traveling, shopping, gift giving, festivities, and good cheer. For others,‘Tis the season for increased debt, worry about money or lack thereof, skipping or missing payments, concern about the rising cost of living (especially heating costs in the Winter months), anxiety, depression, and stress. For many Americans with financial struggles, who are trying to make ends meet during the Holidays, it can be overwhelming. For homeowners in crisis and at risk of losing their homes, this can be an especially difficult time.

 

The impact of ongoing economy challenges in the United States has put the American Dream of homeownership at risk. More and more home owners in New YorkState are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. What is foreclosure? By definition, a foreclosure is the commencement of a legal action brought forth by your in an attempt to cure a defaulted mortgage and secured by your home. Once a borrower has missed three monthly mortgage payments, the lender may pursue legal means to recapture the loan proceeds by foreclosing on the property in question. New YorkState is a judicial foreclosure state that affords homeowners the opportunity to resolve any disputes with their lender through court proceedings called settlement conferences. Although lenders may pursue a foreclosure after three missed payments, typically, judicial foreclosures are lengthy in nature and may take months to resolve. New YorkState is a judicial foreclosure state, affording homeowners the protection of the court, in addition to the ability to challenge the lender should they elect to foreclose.

According to Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, “In New York State, an average of 1 in 10 mortgages is at risk of foreclosure. The approximate number of individuals living in homes that are either in or facing foreclosure exceeds the populations of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse combined.”

In response to the tide of foreclosures affecting homeowners in New YorkState, and as a result of his efforts to hold banks accountable, attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman worked diligently with his staff to create the Home Ownership Preservation Program or HOPP. This collaborative effort between the Attorney Generals office, legal service providers, and housing agencies from across the state, was created as a way to combat the effect of foreclosure filings in New YorkState. Home HeadQuarters is a proud recipient of the NYS AG’s office HOPP program funds. As a 2014 HOPP grant award recipient, Home HeadQuarters is dedicated to serving homeowners throughout a 7 county service area including Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego.

Once a month, Home HeadQuarters hosts an “Understanding and Preventing Foreclosure” workshop in each of the respective counties. The workshop was designed to educate homeowners at risk of or in the process of losing their homes about the resources and options available to them during their crisis. After attending the workshop, participants have the opportunity to work one on one with a HUD approved Housing Counselor. The counselor analyzes each individual and their respective circumstances. During the one on one session, the counselor will answer your questions about the foreclosure process and how to navigate it. The counselor will discuss long term affordability and the importance of forming a household budget. The client will be provided an action plan at the end of this session. A counselor can also refer homeowners in need of legal assistance to one of our legal partners including Hiscock Legal Aid or Legal services of Central New York, in addition to other local agencies providing assistance to distressed homeowners.

The key to saving your home is to act now. The longer you wait, the fewer options you will have to save your home. If you or someone you know is at risk of losing their home due to foreclosure, there is help and hope. Please call Home Headquarters to register for or to attend an “Understanding and Preventing Foreclosure” workshop near you at (315) 474-1939 Ext. 6654.

Elisa Morales is a Home Ownership/Foreclosure Prevention Counselor for the HomeOwnershipCenter at Home Headquarters. She has been serving the Central New York area as a bilingual, bicultural housing counselor since 2011. For more information please contact her at (315) 474-1939 Ext. 6675 or via email at elisam@homehq.org. She is fluent in Spanish and English.

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