Long Islanders will be offered the first low-cost loans under a new state program that aims to help homeowners ward off foreclosure, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Thursday in Hempstead.
Schneiderman announced the mortgage assistance program during a packed Town Hall meeting.
"We are going to provide loans to families that prevent them from losing their homes," he said. "We know how hard Long Island was hit by the foreclosure crisis. This was the worst of the worst. There was a big boom and a big bust."
Long Island leads New York with the highest rate of distressed mortgages that are at least 90 days overdue. Topping the state with a 28 percent delinquency rate is Hempstead, followed by Brentwood at 24 percent.
Under the program, homeowners can borrow to pay off overdue mortgage payments or unpaid interest and fees; reduce second or third mortgages; and take care of property tax liens or other liens that imperil their homes. They also can obtain loans to lower the principal or improve terms for first liens, Schneiderman said.
The 18-month loans can be as much as $40,000, and should aid several hundred homeowners statewide, he said.
The loans will not come due until the home is sold or the mortgage is paid off. No interest will be charged, although the amount due will be adjusted to account for inflation.
Applications from Long Island will be processed first on Sept. 15. All other applications in the state will be processed a month later. Recipients must earn less than 120 percent of their area's median income.
"No New Yorker should ever lose their homes because they don't have a lawyer or there's relief out there that they don't know they have access to," Schneiderman said. "When families lose their homes, kids are pulled out of schools and jobs are lost, it's bad for everyone."
Following Schneiderman's announcement, a panel of attorney general bureau chiefs answered prescreened questions on issues ranging from health care and civil rights to environmental protection.
The meeting was part of several public forums Schneiderman is holding statewide.A small group of residents stood outside Town Hall, calling for greater oversight of the New York Rising housing recovery program. Some protesters said they were still awaiting housing recovery funds. With Joan Gralla