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October 2011

Center Prevents Foreclosures


The Center for NYC Neighborhoods is preventing foreclosures, similar to this one in Jamaica, Queens, by connecting people with agencies that can help them keep their homes.
When banks threaten to take homes away from New Yorkers who are behind on their mortgage payments, the Center for New York City Neighborhoods steps in. “If you call 311 with mortgage or foreclosure troubles, you will get transferred to our call center,” says Gail Flowers, technology director at the Center.

When the City and private funders formed the Center in 2008, The Trust’s $75,000 grant was used to develop its website and database. Since then, the Center’s digital platform has been used to educate 20,000 troubled homeowners and referred more than 12,000 New Yorkers to housing counselors or legal services. Dolores Galloway was one of these homeowners. “I was approved for a loan modification in July when I first appeared in court, but I never received the loan modification packet. I tried calling the lender several times but got nowhere, and I ended up going back to court in August. Thank heavens for Legal Services of Staten Island, who helped me with the court proceedings because I can’t afford a private attorney.” Not only did the Center refer Ms. Galloway to Legal Services, but they also tracked and logged the hurdles she faced. This and other data from thousands of New Yorkers is helping the Center with the next stage of their work: building a strong case for reforming the lending industry and foreclosure process in New York.

While the mortgage crisis may no longer be front page fodder, the Center’s phone is still ringing, with approximately 600 calls for help each month. “We are at the same level of urgency because there are still a large number of people going into default but not being foreclosed upon,” continues Ms. Flowers. “Our database allows us to immediately find appropriate providers near the caller, log and track the resolution of their problem, and automatically follow up with all parties involved.”

“If we want the mortgage crisis to go away, we need to tackle the systemic problems that have created and now threaten to perpetuate the crisis,” says Pat Swann, senior program officer for community development at The Trust. A new $40,000 grant is paying a full-time legislative and policy analyst at the Center.

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