2007-11-16 / Community

It's My Turn

By William C. Thompson Comptroller, City of New York

For many New Yorkers, the dream of home ownership has turned into the nightmare of foreclosure. It is estimated that New York City will experience roughly 15,000 foreclosure filings this year - more than double the nearly 7,000 filings just two years ago.

Notably, the rate of foreclosures has hit minority neighborhoods the hardest. According to NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, the 10 neighborhoods in New York City with the highest rates of mortgages from subprime lenders are primarily African-American and Hispanic.

Behind the staggering statistics are families displaced from their homes and, in some cases, taken advantage of by brokers and lenders they trusted.

For our communities as a whole, foreclosures have harsh economic consequences. Just one or two boarded-up homes can hurt neighboring property values and stunt an area's economic growth.

Although there is no simple or single solution to this problem, it is important that at-risk borrowers know about all the options available to help them avoid the loss of their homes. There are places they can turn for both help and hope.

The New York City Comptroller's Office and New York City Central Labor Council have created a citywide initiative called "Save Our Homes." In the month of November, my office will be working in partnership with labor and clergy throughout the city to raise awareness and offer assistance to New York homeowners. We will distribute thousands of our Foreclosure Prevention Guides to help educate homeowners by offering strategies to deal with missed mortgage payments, tips on working with lenders, and contacts to obtain foreclosure prevention counseling.

Our initiative's guiding principle is that education is the most necessary tool New Yorkers have to address the foreclosure crisis.

"Save Our Homes" will both educate and encourage homeowners to take immediate action. It is part of a many-pronged initiative that includes my office's Foreclosure Prevention Helpline.

If you would like more information about the "Save Our Homes" initiative or need help regarding your personal situation, please call my Foreclosure Prevention Helpline at 212-669-4600 or visit www.comptroller. nyc.gov.

With guidance and support, many homeowners can regain their footing and protect their property. Despite the current crisis, we must never lose faith in the perseverance of our communities and the dream of home ownership.

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