Schumer calls for mortgage payment delay for Sandy victims

Senator Charles Schumer inspects the remains of the

Senator Charles Schumer inspects the remains of the Long Beach boardwalk as he aims to ensure the Long Beach boardwalk Is built stronger to survive future storms. (Feb. 25, 2013) (Credit: Steve Pfost)

Lindenhurst resident Joan Ensulo cries almost every time she thinks about the $90,000 in damage superstorm Sandy caused to the first floor of her home and the deluge of paperwork that has followed for insurance payments, repairs and aid.

More recently, she said, she has been inundated by notices from her bank threatening foreclosure. With all of her extra funds going toward repairs, Ensulo, 63, said Sunday she has had little left over for her mortgage.

"I was never a day late, never a second late," she said of conversations with JPMorgan Chase, "and you don't want to help us now."


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She was one of several South Shore residents who appeared with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a news conference in Manhattan during which he called on banks to extend mortgage payment delays for at least six months.

Sandy-stricken homeowners are struggling to finance repairs and may also be paying rent to live elsewhere if their home is uninhabitable, he said.

Banks have issued mortgage-payment holidays of at least three months, but those forbearance periods have expired or are expiring soon, Schumer said.

"It's hard enough to rebuild without having to worry about foreclosure," he said.

Schumer also asked banks to spare homeowners from lump sum mortgage payments when their forbearance periods end.

JPMorgan Chase could not be reached for comment. Wells Fargo Bank said in a statement Sunday that it is "committed to continuing to work with elected officials to provide assistance to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy."

Dawn Tesoro of Patchogue said her mortgage payments were prompt until Sandy. But as her forbearance period comes to an end, she faces an unaffordable bill of delayed mortgage payments as well as foreclosure.

Her husband, Chris, who works in construction, has made their home safe enough to live in, but more repairs are needed, she said.

"Here we are trying to survive, with no heat, no hot water, no electric, my husband's in the crawl space," Dawn Tesoro said. "We're trying to save the asset that we've worked [for] and now the bank's trying to take it away."

Peter Chaplin, 52, said his one-time dream home in Massapequa has brought on a bureaucratic nightmare, as he has used his homeowner's insurance payout for some mortgage payments. His family is living in a rented home.

Sandy caused about $300,000 in damage to his home and as much as he loved it, it can't be salvaged, he said.

Chaplin has asked CitiMortgage to allow him to defer mortgage payments until his flood insurance payment comes through. He'll use those funds, he said, to "satisfy our mortgage and walk away."

CitiMortgage could not immediately be reached for comment.

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