New York homeowners facing foreclosure can get two more years of free housing counseling and legal advice, due to an additional $40 million in funding.
The infusion will bring the total amount spent on New York's Homeownership Protection Program to $100 million, said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who oversees the effort.
The 2-year-old aid program had been set to expire next September. The new funding will extend it through September 2017. Roughly 34,000 New York homeowners have gotten assistance so far, the attorney general reported.
"No individual or family should have to navigate the foreclosure process alone," Schneiderman said in a statement released late Sunday.
Funding for the aid program comes from the $25 billion accord reached in 2012 between state and federal agencies and the nation's five largest mortgage lenders, settling charges of foreclosure abuses. New Yorkers have received nearly $2 billion in mortgage assistance under the settlement, including modifications, loan forgiveness and short sales -- more than three times the amount predicted, Schneiderman reported, citing federal statistics released in May.
Under the aid program, Long Island has gotten about 20 percent of the statewide funding for direct services, with 8,800 homeowners receiving help, the attorney general reported.
Maureen Steiger is among those who received housing counseling. Two years ago her overtime income as a teacher's aide was reduced just as her husband, Robert, a school custodial engineer, lost his part-time evening job. She said they paid $1,400 to a company that promised to modify their loan, but no help ever came.
The Steigers, both 57, feared they would lose the North Babylon home where they had lived for 25 years and raised their four children. A counselor with the Long Island Housing Partnership, which receives funding from the statewide program, got them a trial loan modification in June; Steiger said she hopes to receive the final paperwork soon. The new loan is expected to lower their payments and reduce their interest rate from 9 percent to 2 percent, she said. The modified loan, Steiger said, would "just give us a little peace of mind and maybe make life a little easier."
Many Long Islanders have lost income due to the recession, and they are struggling to remain in their homes, said Carol Yopp, director of counseling for the Long Island Housing Partnership. "There's a lot of agencies that would have to shut down their programs if we didn't have that funding stream," Yopp said.
Hard-hit Long Island communities have some of the highest delinquency rates in New York State. In Hempstead, 28 percent of mortgages are at least 90 days behind on payments, the attorney general reported. Delinquency rates stood at 24 percent in Brentwood, and 18 percent in Bay Shore.
For more information, call 855-HOME-456 or visit AG HomeHelp.com.