2011-10-28 / Top Stories

Sanders ToursVacant,Run-Down Properties

By Miriam Rosenberg


Councilman James Sanders Jr., in front of 69-19 Almeda Avenue, talks about the foreclosure problem in Arverne. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Councilman James Sanders Jr., in front of 69-19 Almeda Avenue, talks about the foreclosure problem in Arverne. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Nineteen homes are either vacant or in the midst of foreclosure within a four block radius of Beach 69 Street in Arverne. Those homes recently became the epicenter for a tour by Councilman James Sanders Jr. and New York Communities for Change (NYCC) to highlight the problems the foreclosure and economic crisis have had on the Arverne community.

One reason for the tour is the fact that banks, despite past help from the federal government, are refusing to grant many of the home loan modification requests that come their way.

“The city has a great stake in here. Our budget is $62 billion,” explained Sanders. “Why don’t we say to these banks, ‘my friends, if you are not working with people then we are going to pull our money out of these banks.’? We are saying we want to see a certain amount of people worked with. Right now these banks have a less than 1 out of 5 [rate of] people they are working with. They’re notorious for losing papers and doing things. If we moved our money, they would move their butts and get working on this issue and we would save a lot of our homeowners. [We] should be putting pressure on the banks. Why don’t we take our $62 billion and say, ‘if you are not doing at least 50 percent of these modifications, we’re moving our money.’ ”


This property at 69-35 Almeda is managed by Chase Home Finance, LLC. New York Communities for Change called Chase Bank the worst offender in terms of granting mortgage modifications. This property at 69-35 Almeda is managed by Chase Home Finance, LLC. New York Communities for Change called Chase Bank the worst offender in terms of granting mortgage modifications. One of those people having trouble getting a home modification is Tisha Lennon, who lives on the street with her 12-year-old daughter.

“She lost her job at Capital One and had trouble making the mortgage payments,” said her father, Lenny Lennon.

Her father said she tried for more than a year, through Margert and other local organizations, to get a loan modification for the home she has lived in for seven years but was told that she didn’t qualify. Now things have gotten worse. The property next door is vacant and mice and rats are making their way into the house causing her daughter to be afraid to return home.

Amelia Adams of NYCC talked about the problems related to vacant and foreclosed homes.

“A lot of the vacant properties start with graffiti, then you have people squatting and I think it’s not just an eyesore [but] people who live next door to these vacant properties have to put up with that,” said Adams.

The group studied Chase Bank, which they’ve called the worst offender in terms of giving out home loan modification. NYCC says that the bank only modified loans for 6 percent of homeowners who tried to get help.

“That’s unacceptable,” said Adams.

There are several bills before the City Council that could help homeowners in trouble.

Councilman Brad Lander introduced a bill in March that would require a $10,000 bond to insure the upkeep of foreclosed or vacant property. Councilman Erik Dilan has introduced a bill that would form a foreclosure registry. Sanders also said there is a bill to rate banks.

“Just as we have a big A or C for restaurants, why can’t we rate the banks, and that’s a proposal that’s before the City Council,” said Sanders. “Why can’t we rate the banks on how well they’re helping to save their neighbors? The banks are taking more money in and lending less out.” Sanders continued by saying, “The banks simply won’t do it if you don’t force them to.”

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