A day after more than a dozen homeowners facing foreclosure stormed state Sen. Frank Padavan's (R-Bellerose) district office, legislators in Albany passed a bill that will assist the hundreds of borough residents in danger of losing their homes.
The legislation, announced by Gov. David Paterson and state lawmakers during a news conference last Thursday, came days before the end of the legislative session and marked one of the boldest moves in the nation to combat distress wrought by risky subprime loans. The state Senate and Assembly passed the legislation Monday.
Under the new legislation, lenders are required to give a 90-day warning before issuing a foreclosure notice and must include a list of state-approved housing counselors in the notice. In addition, lenders must determine that a borrower is capable of repaying a loan before granting it.
One aspect notably absent from the new legislation is the one-year moratorium proposed in foreclosure bills sponsored by Padavan and state Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn).
A moratorium, frequently used in Depression-era policies, would have allowed homeowners to pay a monthly court-determined fee while lenders and borrowers settled on new terms for loans.
Brennan's bill passed in the state Assembly May 7, while Padavan's version stalled in the state Senate.
In a press release, Padavan said he respected the governor's view that a "moratorium would not have worked and would have only delayed a foreclosure."
Meanwhile, housing advocates blasted the absence of a moratorium.
"The fact is that the depth of this crisis and the costs to the state demand that New York slams the brakes on home foreclosure so we can buy both borrowers and lenders time to work out individual loans," said Bertha Lewis, executive director of the New York Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a grassroots group that helps homeowners cope with foreclosures.
ACORN organizers were among the protesters at Padavan's office last week. During the protest, the group hoisted signs with an hourglass running low on time and spoke with the senator's legal counsel, Charles Assini, via speakerphone. Padavan was in Albany that day.
According to real estate Web site RealtyTrac, 985 Queens households faced foreclosure in January 2007, making it the borough hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.
Springfield Gardens resident Denise Parker said she received notice that her home was nearing foreclosure about a month ago. Parker, who purchased her two-family home in 2005, said she can no longer afford her monthly mortgage, which she said increased from about $3,700 to $5,100.
"Our paychecks don't go up every six months," she said.
Parker, a single mother of three, said she works two full-time jobs as a maid in two Manhattan hotels and cannot work more hours to make her mortgage. Parker said she went to ACORN for help with her mortgage, but the group was not able to negotiate a plan she could afford.
Instead, Parker said she will go to court and negotiate for a lower rate on her loan.
"I'm hoping," she said. "My fingers and my foot, everything's crossed."
Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.
©2008 Community News Group
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