Who Is Eligible for the $539 Million Dollars Homeowners Assistance Program?

Homeowners Assistance ProgramThere is approximately $539 million dollars allocated from federal funds to assist homeowners facing foreclosure and other financial issues. There are specific requirements regarding who is eligible for these funds. Homeowners who earn less than the average median income which is approximately $107,400 for a family of 3 are eligible to participate in this program. In addition, homeowners who earn less than 150% of the area median income and meets the federal requirements of “socially disadvantaged” which includes “those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice”.

In addition to the aforementioned requirements, to qualify homeowners will have to demonstrate some kind of financial hardship. Examples of financial hardships could be loss of income or added expenses that have been caused or are related to the covid-19 pandemic. The individuals who seek aid must actually live in the home that they seek the money for. The home must be their primary residence. The primary residence can be single family homes, condos, co-ops , mobile homes or 2-4 family homes.

Three Options

There are three different options within the Homeowners Assistance Program. The first option is for homeowners with a mortgage who are ending forbearance agreements and homeowners who didn’t go into forbearance and are behind on their mortgage payments. Financial relief is available to these homeowners in a five year forgivable loan for an amount of money needed to modify the mortgage in a way that can allow the homeowner to better afford going forward. Homeowners under option one can receive up to $50,000.

Option 2 is for homeowners who don’t have a mortgage but are behind on expenses such as property taxes, water bills, insurance or condo or co-op fees. The relief is a five year forgivable loan for the amount of the debt that is owed. The amount of the forgivable loan is capped at $50,000.

The third option is in addition to one of the first two options. This is for homeowners who are unemployed or who are unable to keep up with the costs of maintaining their housing. For homeowners to qualify for the third option they must be making less than 30% of the area median income before the pandemic. For a homeowner to qualify for the third option, they can receive up tp six months of future housing payments to stay afloat as the economy recovers. These six payments are in addition to the other relief and will be funded through a different group of federal funds called the Community Development Block Grants.

Portals are in the process of being developed according to the Department of Homes and Community Renewal. This will allow homeowners to apply online or over the phone through a housing counselor.

schlissel-headshotThe law office of Schlissel Decorpo, LLP is available to help homeowners facing foreclosure, in foreclosure and facing other financial problems that have put their homes at risk of being lost. We can be reached at 800-344-6431 or by email at info@sdnylaw.com

Federal Funds Available to Help Homeowners in Foreclosure

Federal Funds Available to Help Homeowners in ForeclosureHomeowners facing foreclosure who are either behind on their mortgages, their property taxes or other housing related expenses can receive up to $50,000 in financial assistance through New York State’s recently approved Homeowners Assistance Fund. The State of New York has received $539 million dollars in financial assistance for homeowners pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act. On December 2, 2021 the United States Treasury approved the implementation of a plan in the State of New York with regard to the distribution of $539 million dollars to homeowners facing financial difficulties and foreclosure.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, households must have experienced a financial hardship caused by the covid-19 pandemic and earn at or below 150% of the median income in their area. Governor Hochul is in the process of unveiling an outreach campaign targeted to homeowner’s at risk of foreclosure. Although applications are currently not available they will be available in the near future.

539 Million Is Not Enough

Kristen Keef, the senior attorney for the Empire Justice Center has recently stated “I think everyone generally thinks $539 million will not be enough in cash assistance for homeowners”. Kristen Keef has indicated there are between 400 thousand and 500 thousand New York homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments. From September 29th through October 11, 2021 the delinquency rate among homeowners in New York State was over 13%. The delinquency rate is higher among black and Latino homeowners. It is estimated that up to 35% of black homeowners were late on their mortgage payments. This is a rate 5 times higher than the rate for white homeowner’s that have a delinquency rate of approximately 7%. The delinquency rate for Latino homeowners has been approximately 16%.

The last prior peak delinquency rate in New York State was in 2012 when 8.3 percent of mortgage payments were more than 30 days behind. Ms. Keef went on to state “obviously they were using different data back then and different methodology, potentially than today, but I think suffice it to say that the delinquency rate is much higher today than when we thought it was really awful in 2009, following the subprime mortgage lending crisis and great recession. Ms. Keef has indicated the $539 million dollars that is available will fall far short of being able to help all of the people in need of assistance.

schlissel-headshotThe law office of Schlissel Decorpo, LLP is available to help homeowners facing foreclosure, in foreclosure and facing other financial problems that have put their homes at risk of being lost. We can be reached at 800-344-6431 or by email at info@sdnylaw.com

$539 Million Dollars Available to Help Homeowners in Foreclosure

Homeowners in ForeclosureOn Thursday, December 4, 2021, New York State became the first state in the United States to receive United States Treasury approval for $539 million in a Homeowner Assistance Fund to aid individuals whose homes are in foreclosure. Governor Kathy Hochul is working on plans to unveil a statewide outreach program for at risk homeowners.

The Homeowners Assistance Fund will allow homeowners in New York State to receive financial aid regarding foreclosures on mobile homes, single family homes and elderly homeowners who have taken out reverse mortgages will also qualify for assistance. The Homeowners Assistance money was part of the $1.9 trillion dollar law enacted by Congress and the Biden administration to keep Americans “experiencing hardships associated with the pandemic” in their homes. The money is being allocated to both states, Native American tribes and United States territories.

The Homeowners Assistance Fund is separate from the $47 billion dollars that the United States government is giving to states to provide funds for rental assistance to tenants facing eviction. These funds are also included in the American Rescue Plan. An internet portal will eventually be set up. Homeowners will be able to file applications for assistance through the portal. This is a unique opportunity for homeowners either in foreclosure or facing foreclosure to use federal funds to deal with these issues.

schlissel-headshotThe law office of Schlissel Decorpo, LLP is available to help homeowners facing foreclosure and facing other financial problems that have put their homes at risk of being lost. We can be reached at 800-344-6431 or by email at info@sdnylaw.com.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2021

This Thanksgiving, we are immensely grateful, that with all the changes in our world, we have friends and family with whom we can gather. Let us take time this year to live in gratitude for the bounty we experience all around us.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

FRESH SUMMARY OF NEW YORK’S FORECLOSURE LAWS

FORECLOSURE LAWSRestricted lenders must comply with temporary NYS foreclosure laws protecting homeowners who’ve declared a COVID-19 hardship. Here’s a summary of changes effective May 1, 2021 until August 31, 2021, when statewide foreclosures will resume.

Here to Stay?

The Senate and House Assembly recently passed a legislative suspension of the entire New York State foreclosure eviction process. Enacted last December, the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 expired earlier this month. Two days later, a gubernatorial extension extended the Act retroactively to apply to all residential and commercial mortgage loans affected by loss of income and other disruptive factors related to the health crisis.

Moratoriums are staying for a few more months. Title 13 of New York’s merged laws requires the debtor to file a Declaration of Hardship form and file it with the foreclosing party, agent, or county court. A properly filed hardship declaration qualifies homes loan and forbids:

  • Tax lien sales and tax foreclosures during the suspension period
  • New foreclosure filings, settlement conferences, acceleration and other steps typically involved in a foreclosure
  • Forced sales at auction, Default Judgments, Deficiency Judgments, and removal of owners/mortgagors, occupants, and tenants until August 31, 2021
  • Reporting accounts with missed or severely delinquent payments to credit bureaus, using forbearance or hardship declarations as a reason to deny future credit applications or negatively affect credit ratings

And allow access to other options to mitigate loss or avoid foreclosure, such as these:

  • twelve-month forbearance for non-government backed mortgages
  • Federal aid package of $20,000,000, secured by state officials and allocated for homeowner grants and the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), an organization created to help connect with programs and agencies that assist with mortgage payments and resources to avoid losing your home.

If you have a pending foreclosure case in progress, you will receive a copy of the Hardship Declaration in the mail. This will come from the court. Newly filed foreclosures require the lender or servicer to send mortgagees aAll legally required pre-foreclosure notices must accompany the form. You may access a blank copy of the Hardship Declaration forms on the Office of Court Administration’s website.

Hardship declaration is an option available for borrowers owning no more than to ten residences, including condos and co-ops. Industry professionals strongly

Opponents of the Act have complained about losses incurred by creditors. They believe the law favors borrowers and denies lenders their constitutional right to have non-payment disputes heard in a court of law. They dismiss counter defenses from supporters, who point to the provisional right of lenders and services to charge and collect interest, late fees, and other penalties set forth in the mortgage agreement.

Times of Lien

New York is a “lien theory” state. What that means is most foreclosures are usually judicial. They begin when a lender has filed a civil lawsuit against the borrower in loan default. It will cause a court case over which a judge presides until a settlement, dismissal or judgment order is affirmed, if appealed.

Sometimes, lenders can use a “non-judicial” type of foreclosure procedure in New York. However, this is rare. It requires an existing “power of sale” clause in the required instruments, which is a Deed the loan recipient executed in the original note. It allows a lender to sell the property on behalf of the borrower, should a default situation arise.

Deal or No Deal?

State law gives the borrower a chance to work things out with the lender. First, the filing party proves they served the complaint to the defendant by one of several means specified by law. They file the verification of service with the clerk’s office. Then, 60 days later, the court schedules a Settlement Conference on their docket. The court will notify you regarding when and where the conference is going to take place, along with what you should bring as documentation. (N.Y. Civil Practice Rule 3408). At the Settlement Conference, the borrower and lender can negotiate a solution to avoid foreclosure.

Money Changes Everything

Per New York property law, they may reinstate a mortgage loan before the Judge will dismiss the lawsuit. The amount the borrower must pay to be reinstated includes fees and costs, besides the past due amount. Also, if you become able to pay that total after judgment is rendered, but before the foreclosure sale takes place, your court case is stayed, and the mortgage is reinstated.

No Givebacks?

In some states, a defaulting borrower has a “redemption” right. This allows a specific amount of time to buy back the residence after a foreclosure sale. The timeframe to redeem a home varies among state, and there are two ways it can be done, depending on the state:

  1. Reimburse the buyer of the home in the amount paid at the sale, plus allowed costs.
  2. Repay the lender the amount of the total mortgage debt owed, plus interest, late fees, and expenses.

Unfortunately, redemption periods aren’t permitted in New York. On the other hand, a foreclosure attorney can give clients peace of mind if they are seeking advice on how to buy a foreclosure in NY.

Are We Even?

Sometimes, residential property is sold for less than the total mortgage debt owed. New York’s Consolidated Laws grant lenders a right to submit a Motion for Deficiency Judgment against the borrower for the remaining difference. The motion must be filed no later than 90 days following the consummation of the sale. Once the deed to the property is delivered to the new owner, they consider the sale consummated by law. The court must follow state law, which determines deficiency as the higher of two amounts:

  • Fair Market Value OR
  • Sales price

The potential for being on the hook for the balance is a good reason to consider hiring a property attorney who is familiar with foreclosure laws in NY and can offer expert advice and legal strategies that minimize or eliminate your liability.

No “R” in Fee

Sadly, there are those who have targeted vulnerable folks in this predicament. Their goal is to gain the equity remaining in a home facing foreclosure and even offer loan modification services for the title to the property at risk. Some fulfill their promises, but that’s irrelevant because it is illegal to offer foreclosure relief for a fee. Homeowners should never have to pay a fee to change a loan or explore options to avoid losing their home. HOPP and the federal government will assist you with no cost. Think about it like this: if you don’t have the money to pay your monthly mortgage payment that’s past due, how will you afford a fee charged for an otherwise free service? It’s money that would be better spent toward the debt or competent legal help.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a foreclosure lawyer representing homeowners in foreclosure lawsuits throughout the Metropolitan New York area. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mail at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year

Season's Greetings and Happy New Year

Video : Discussing Mortgage Modifications

Elliot discusses a case on Discussing Mortgage Modifications.

Bank fails to move on a timely basis for a default judgment; foreclosure case dismissed

Bank fails to move on a timely basis for a default judgment; foreclosure case dismissedIn a case before Justice Arlene Bluth in Supreme Court in New York County a bank brought an application for a default judgment against defendants. The bank also requested the appointment of a referee to compute the sums due and owing to the bank in the foreclosure lawsuit. The defendants made a cross application to dismiss the foreclosure lawsuit. The defendants claimed the bank had abandoned the foreclosure.

History of the Case

The homeowner had executed a note and mortgage. The note and mortgage was assigned to the bank who is the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The bank’s foreclosure lawsuit claimed that the homeowner had failed to make payments from November 1, 2008 to the present time. The foreclosure lawsuit was initiated on March 9, 2019. The homeowner failed to answer or appear in the foreclosure case. The bank did not take action until they were ordered to do so with regard to the motion appointing the referee to sell the house. At that point the bank sought a default judgment against the homeowners. The bank presented arguments there was sufficient basis for the delay in moving for a default judgment. They claimed the delay was caused by the substitution of the attorneys for the bank. However, Justice Bluth took note the new lawyers were substituted in 2015. She found the bank had failed to move forward for a default judgment until it was ordered by her to do so. She found the bank failed to establish a reasonable excuse for their delay in moving forward with the default judgment.

The Judge’s Decision

Justice Bluth found the change in the attorneys for the bank took place 2 years after the bank should have moved for a default judgment. They were required to move for a default judgment within a year. She also found the change of attorneys does not excuse a 9 year delay in moving for a default judgment. Justice Bluth found that not one of the three different groups of attorneys representing the bank moved for a default judgment in a decade. Justice Bluth granted the homeowners cross motion to dismiss the case as being abandoned.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a foreclosure lawyer representing homeowners in foreclosure lawsuits throughout the Metropolitan New York area. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mail at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Lack of Standing Defense Waived

Lack of Standing Defense WaivedThe issue of standing in a foreclosure lawsuit is a basic issue. The affirmative defense of lack of standing basically says that the financial institution bringing the lawsuit does not have authority to bring this lawsuit.

The Nielsons

In May 2009 the Nielsons’ defaulted on making payments on a $660,000.00 loan to the New York bank’s predecessor. This loan was secured by property located in Kings County.

The Mortgage Assignment

In September 2009 pursuant to a mortgage assignment, U.S. Bank brought a foreclosure lawsuit in Supreme Court in Kings County. A decision was made by the trial judge granting summary judgment and foreclosure and sale to U.S. Bank.

The Appeal

The Nielsons brought an appeal challenging the trial court’s decision granting U.S. Bank summary judgment. The Appeals Court (the Second Department in New York) held that a defendant in a foreclosure lawsuit must submit an affirmative defense as part of their pleadings alleging lack of standing. The failure of the Nielson’s to allege this affirmative defense amounted to a waiver of that affirmative defense. Therefore, the trial court’s granting the motion for summary judgment for U.S. Bank was upheld.

Conclusion

Every answer in a foreclosure lawsuit should contain the affirmative defense of lack of standing. Until discovery proceedings are effectuated by the attorney for the homeowner, the homeowner will not be sufficiently knowledgeable as to whether the financial institution bringing the foreclosure lawsuit has actual standing to bring the foreclosure lawsuit.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a foreclosure defense lawyer representing homeowners throughout the Metropolitan New York area for more than 3 decades. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or you can contact me by e-mail at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

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