Two new programs to provide legal help and counseling for homeowners facing foreclosure have been announced by state officials, as experts predict a surge this year in home repossessions.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Thursday that $1 million his office received in a 2006 settlement with a mortgage company accused of illegal home financing practices will go toward providing legal assistance for consumers facing loss of their homes.
Bids will be sought from nonprofit legal aid organizations, and money could be flowing to them in as little as eight weeks, said a spokesman for Schneiderman.
Last week in his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that a Foreclosure Relief Unit is being set up within the new Department of Financial Services. "We need to resolve this crisis so we can move on," Cuomo said.
Within a few weeks, unit staffers in a motor home outfitted with offices will begin visiting foreclosure hot spots around the state to offer counseling and mediation services that aim to keep people in their homes whenever possible, Ben Lawsky, superintendent of the new financial services department, said in an interview Thursday. Nassau and Suffolk, he said, will be among the first areas visited. "If you look at the raw numbers," he said, "they are on top of the list."
RealtyTrac, the California-based real estate data provider, said about 7,800 Long Island homes received some type of foreclosure-related notice last year. Nassau had the state's highest foreclosure rate; Suffolk was fifth highest.
Experts predict a surge of new foreclosures this year as paperwork and legal logjams that have been delaying the processing of foreclosures get worked out and more variable-rate mortgages are reset.
RealtyTrac is forecasting a 25 percent increase nationwide, but its director of marketing communications, Daren Blomquist, said in an email, "I believe the New York increase will actually be even higher percentagewise, because we've seen bigger delays in the foreclosure process in New York than other parts of the country."