It’s My Turn

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David Warren, Kathryn Haslanger, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Bill Ritter and John Ruskay.

David Warren, Kathryn Haslanger, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Bill Ritter and John Ruskay.

As a result of living in one of the largest, busiest, and arguably, greatest cities in the world, I have a fundamental expectation that justice is on my side, it will win out, it will be served.

The Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA) is committed to the well-being of our aging friends, family members, and neighbors, and I’m sure you agree that older New Yorkers – often the most vulnerable among us – must not only expect justice, they must have it. I’m proud to say that at JASA, they do.

This past July, the New York Post investigated and published an article about the financial woes experienced by 67-year-old JASA client, Frederick Feil, as a direct result of taking out a reverse-mortgage.

The stakes could not have been higher for Frederick, who, because of blatant errors and questionable collection ethics on the part of the lender, was at risk of losing his home.

Increasingly, flawed reverse-mortgage foreclosures are brought against borrowers without disclosing the amount that is actually past due. For Frederick, who had fallen behind because of medical expenses, the entirety of his loan of nearly $450,000 was called due when in truth, he was only $16,000 behind in payments.

Frederick turned to JASA for assistance. Once in the capable hands of our legal services team, the problems in the case against Frederick were identified and with a formidable ally in his corner, his case is now poised to be fully resolved. Additionally, with the robust cooperation of JASA’s legal team, the New York State Department of Financial Services has opened up a probe into shady reverse-mortgage lending practices.

Unfortunately, Frederick isn’t alone. JASA’s reverse-mortgage caseload has tripled, illustrating both the life-and-death jeopardy facing New York’s older citizens and the necessity of the critical services we provide.

Fortunately, we’re not alone in fighting for Frederick. In fact, as a direct result of JASA’s work on his behalf, and after our meetings with the New York State Attorney General, New York lawmakers are taking real steps to protect reverse-mortgage borrowers in foreclosure all across the state.

JASA was a safety-net for Frederick – and JASA is a safety-net for tens of thousands of his peers – because of the support of friends like you.

Friends who recognize that the continuum of life-sustaining programs we provide, that range from legal services to mental health services to providing affordable housing, food, and daily care, are essential to helping seniors live their lives with confidence, vigor, and the autonomy to call their own shots.

With nearly five decades of service under our belt, JASA looks to 2017 ferociously committed to sustaining and improving the highquality services we provide, thereby sustaining and improving the lives of those we serve – men and women we consider a treasured resource deserving of dignity, fair treatment, and yes, justice.

I know that you are inundated with requests for support at this time of year. Yet, I am confident that you will give what you can to JASA, knowing full well that your donations have real, palpable, and lifechanging impact. Just ask Frederick, who is safe and sound in his own home this holiday season.

On behalf of every JASA senior, family member, staff person, volunteer, supporter, partner, and board member, I wish you a very happy new year!

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