N.Y. AG announces results of homeowner protection program

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the results Tuesday of the Homeowner Protection Program, an initiative to support legal services providers and housing counselors working with struggling homeowners.

In the first three months of the $60 million program, 547 at-risk homeowners in the Buffalo-Niagara region received assistance. Approximately 3,600 homeowners were served throughout the state during that time.

"The number of foreclosures across the Buffalo region is troubling, but this isn't just a matter of numbers: each foreclosure represents a devastating loss for families and communities. This program is putting homeowners first, and it is getting our neighborhoods back on track," Schneiderman said. "Funding housing counseling and legal services is an essential step to help more families stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure. As we continue to investigate the mortgage crisis that has hurt communities in Western New York and across the state, our Homeowner Protection Program will ensure that homeowners get the expert guidance and legal representation they need to protect their rights before it's too late."

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 4,245 loans are in foreclosure and 7,592 are 90 or more days delinquent in the Buffalo-Niagara region. Seven local organizations in the Buffalo-Niagara region received $1.1 million in funding to better serve at-risk homeowners in the first year of the HOPP program. The organizations include housing counselors Belmont Housing Resources, the Buffalo Urban League, the Westside Neighborhood Housing Services and Consumer Credit Counseling of Buffalo. Legal services organizations that received funding include Western NY Law Center, Legal Services for Elderly and Disabled, and Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo.

Schneiderman's office also announced the launch of a statewide consumer hotline to help people in need of mortgage counseling. The new hotline is based on the model of a program administered by the Center for New York City Neighborhoods for the past three years. That hotline generated more than 15,000 calls from struggling homeowners during that time.

The announcements by Schneiderman's office are the latest instances of progress made as part of Schneiderman's multi-pronged strategy to reduce foreclosures, provide relief to struggling homeowners and hold the responsible parties accountable for the mortgage crisis.

The funding used for the HOPP is a portion of the millions of dollars New York received as part of the National Mortgage Servicing Settlement announced in February 2012.

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