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Some free help for struggling homeowners

With financial pressures and the threat of mortgage foreclosures rising, the number of illegal swindles targeting homeowners is also increasing. But Brooklyn Housing and Family Services is one of the agencies that can help - at no cost.
Certified workers - fluent in Haitian Creole, Spanish, Spanish Creole, Cantonese, Mandarin and Russian - are available to give free counseling to homeowners in distress. The agency can set up one-on-one sessions or hold community workshops to inform groups.
The agency is funded by the New York State Housing Trust Fund, SONYMA’s National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods.
Carol Finegan, director of administration at Brooklyn Housing and Family Services explained that the airwaves and the Internet are flooded with advertisements and promotions for disreputable firms that take advantage of troubled homeowners.
“And some people in the neighborhood are even worse,” she said, referring to local scam artists who pitch too-good-to-be-true solutions for a fee. “There are a lot of organizations that are free, paid for by the federal and state government,” she explained.
In addition, the agency has counselors who can help with rental problems, such as denial of services, issues with heat and hot water, lack of repairs and maintenance, harassment, evictions due to nonpayment, senior citizen concerns and immigrant issues.
Brooklyn Housing and Family Services are located at 415 Albemarle Road (between East Fourth and East Fifth Streets) and is open weekdays. Call 718-435-7585 for information.
The organization’s web site, www.brooklynhousing.org, will be completed in a few weeks and will provide information on tenants’ rights, housing concerns of the elderly, state housing laws and more.

Admission and tuition help
In light of the recession’s effect on families, Nazareth Regional High School in Brooklyn is helping to ease the financial stress by offering scholarships.
Students from public, private, parochial or charter schools who did not take the TACHS exam (Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools) can take the Nazareth Scholarship Test on Saturday.
“Especially in this time of crisis, we’re trying to help as many children as we can,” said Principal Barbara Gill, adding that a number of full and partial scholarships are available.
The test begins at 9 a.m. Applications are available online at the school’s web site: https://nazarethrhs.org. Applicants should arrive between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to register. The application fee is $25.
The school is located at 475 East 57th Street (between Clarendon Road and Avenue D). For application information, call Mrs. Quiles at 718-763-1100, Ext. 223.

Looking for the write stuff
Students between 6 and 10 years old are eligible to participate in the Golden Krust Bakery and Grill’s Black History Month essay contest, which starts Tuesday.
Special guests and celebrities are expected to help kick off the competition on Tuesday in Manhattan at the Hue-Man Book Store at 2319 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, in Harlem, at 11 a.m.
The top prize, a trip to Disney World, will be awarded at the Hue-Man Book Store on February 28. The deadline for submitting essays, which must be handwritten, is Feb. 21. Essays can be dropped off or mailed to any local Golden Krust store.
Based in the Bronx, Golden Krust Bakery and Grill has 125 stores nationwide. For information, visit www.goldenkrustbakery.com.

A history celebration in the making
The Sons and Daughters of Jamaica will be presenting their free Black/African History Celebration and Awards Ceremony on Saturday in Brooklyn at Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Avenue (between Crown and Montgomery Streets) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Presented in conjunction with the People of the Sun-Middle Passage organization, the event is supported by the New American Chamber of Commerce, Simms Tax Service, Jamaica Progressive League, and Shea Butter Products. Call 718-712-5034 or 718-270-4902 for information.

This column is reprinted from the January 11 Sunday editions of The New York Daily News. If you have items suitable for this column please e-mail them to jmccallister@nydailynews.com.

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