ARE WE ABOUT TO HAVE AN AVALANCHE?
Nearly four million owner-occupied homes exist in New York State. More than a million of those are in New York City. Recent analysis estimates that between 75,000 and 135,000 homeowners are at risk of foreclosure within the coming year. Many experts believe these numbers may be low due to decentralization of collection agencies and short staffing due to the pandemic.
Those estimates don’t account for the homeowners who have exhausted their savings and borrowed money to make ends meet since 2020 and have no more safety net to rely on. It is also unclear whether those figures include homeowners in forbearance with time running out.
In addition to the mortgage foreclosure issues, many of those same homeowners are behind on tax payments and other expenses.
Foreclosure Relief Aid
Homeowners who earn less than the area median income, which is $107,400 for a family of three, are eligible for aid. As are homeowners who earn less than 150% of the area median income and those considered “socially disadvantaged.”
There are hurdles and exceptions, of course. To qualify for aid, homeowners must be able to draw a direct line between financial hardship and the pandemic, which is challenging for some who’s financial difficulties are less direct than others. The home must be a primary residence and the owner must occupy the home, which leaves thousands of homes outside of the scope of the available aid.
What are my options?
A series of forgivable loans designed to modify mortgages in a way that makes the mortgage affordable to the homeowner. There are options available for non mortgage holders who have fallen behind on property taxes, water bills and insurance as well. These loans are capped at $50,000.00.
For unemployed homeowners who are unable to keep up with their housing costs there are additional programs available, but these homeowners must prove that their pre pandemic income was below the qualifying level.
When to expect the relief
New York State is expected to prepare for the program’s launch, creating a hotline and an online application. The application portal is scheduled to open in early September. Once the portal is open homeowners will be able to apply online or over the phone.
New York’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium expires Aug. 31, so technically homeowners could be vulnerable to foreclosure before this relief fund opens up. The good news is that statewide agencies have been in close communication with the stakeholders, like mortgage bill collectors or taxing agencies and expect cooperation as the funds become available.
Experts say the potential foreclosure crisis spurred by the pandemic is bigger than the available aid programs have the capacity to remedy. “People are in dire, dire need of relief. This city has a lot of small homeowners whose income level is the same as renters and work in the same places as renters. Even if they meet all of the requirements, this money will run out.”
How to get help before you apply
Homeowners can call the state’s homeowner helpline and get connected with a housing counselor who can help them prepare to apply at 646-786-0888.