$100M boost announced for foreclosure prevention

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The Journal News, PLEASANTVILLE – State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday announced a $100 million expansion in no-interest loans to help New York families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

Schneiderman made the announcement accompanied by Miguel and Carole Ortiz of Pleasantville, who avoided foreclosure on their Stephen Drive home thanks to the program.

“My office, through the program called Mortgage Assistance Program, has been helping families that are facing foreclosure pay off small debts that would keep them from qualifying vital mortgage modifications,” Schneiderman said. “These small loans, which average around $27,000, help to clear the families’ balance sheet, like the Ortiz family’s, and get their finances back on track.”

Carole Ortiz, 75, said when her husband lost his job as a photographer and she had to deal with severe symptoms from spinal stenosis, the couple fell behind on their property tax payments, which were required by their reverse mortgage agreement.

“This is a marvelous program,” Carole Ortiz said. “We had nowhere else to turn.”

“We were lucky to find out about this program,” Miguel Ortiz, 86, said, adding that Cindy Gago, Westchester Residential Opportunity’s mortgage counselor, guided the couple through the process.
The $100 million expansion to the state Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) is funded by the recent Schneiderman-led settlement with Goldman Sachs over the bank’s deceptive practices leading up to the financial crisis. It is expected to help more than 3,000 families across the state pay off small debts — such as missed mortgage payments or unpaid property tax bills — that are preventing them from securing a needed mortgage modification.

The MAP program began in late 2014, and 654 loans, totaling $18 million, were given out to help assist homeowners statewide. In the Hudson Valley region, 65 loans, totaling $1.88 million, were issued.

The loans had a positive impact on neighbors of the borrowers as well because foreclosed homes often drag down property values of nearby homes, according to the analysis by the Attorney General’s Office.

Based on the analysis, every $1 in loans preserves about $8.50 in property values for homeowners within 750 feet of the MAP loan recipient. With the initial $18 million in loans, $153 million in property values were preserved.

The new $100 million is estimated to save an additional $722 million, after accounting for administrative program costs, according to the state agency.

An average loan amount was $27,456 statewide and $29,062 in the Hudson Valley region.

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