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City to sell foreclosed Jamaica home to needy

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department are stepping in with an emergency program to save several foreclosed city homes, including one in Jamaica.

The mayor announced the creation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Jan. 14 at a news conference in Manhattan with HUD Secretary Steve Preston and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D−Manhattan). The $62 million project will purchase and redevelop approximately 115 foreclosed homes in the city and sell them to needy families.

“We’ve worked hard over the last seven years to build strong, safe neighborhoods, and we will not let the current mortgage crisis destabilize our communities and threaten our quality of life,” said Bloomberg.

The first phase of the project began last month when the city purchased four homes in anticipation of the project’s approval. One of the houses is located at 143−33 Glassboro Ave. in Jamaica and renovations will begin sometime in the spring, Preston said.

“Stabilizing neighborhoods is what this program is all about. HUD will continue to work closely with these communities to make certain these funds are targeted to neighborhoods with the greatest needs,” Preston said.

The federal agency gave a $24 million grant to the city to start the program, which was also funded by $32 million in public financing and $6 million from the Battery Park City Authority Housing Trust Fund. In addition to the restoration project, HUD will now use the city’s 311 system to promote its services and respond to homeowners’ questions and comments.

In 2008, the city had more than 20,000 foreclosures in the five boroughs, a majority of which were located in working−class neighborhoods such as Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, according to the mayor’s office.

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D−St. Albans) said many homeowners in his district were tricked by mortgage dealers into taking out subprime loans, which they could not afford once the interest rate ballooned.

“Queens has been ground zero for the foreclosure crisis in New York City as we’ve seen hundreds of homeowners fall vulnerable to predatory subprime mortgage lenders and are now on the verge of economic ruin,” he said. “It is my hope that this program will begin a bailout of people who are deserving of it — working−class New Yorkers who need a helping hand to keep their homes.”

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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