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RHBA meeting focuses on foreclosures – QNS.com

RHBA meeting focuses on foreclosures

At the most recent meeting of the Richmond Hill Block Association (RHBA), fare hikes, budget cuts and foreclosures were hot topics.
Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley spoke about the firehouse on Jamaica Avenue, which has been closed in the past. She vowed that she will fight to ensure that it does not fall victim to budget cuts in the future.
Martha Ayon from City Comptroller William Thompson’s office spoke about the MTA fare hike and public objections to the Department of Buildings’ recent rule change restricting the public’s participation in the city’s planning and development approval process to a single 30-day comment period to voice their concerns.
Guest speaker Daniel Abreu, a partnership specialist from the U.S. Census Bureau, then spoke about the upcoming 2010 Census. “Everyone needs to be counted in order for the government to plan funding accordingly,” he said.
Abreu informed the audience that the new census questionnaires will be simplified and will be available in more languages than ever before. “Even if you are not a yet a citizen,” he said, “you are required by law to fill out your census form.” He assured everyone that the census bureau cannot give out any specific information about any individual to any other government agency, so people should not worry.
The other guest speaker, Afreen Alam, program director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation in Jackson Heights, said that the not-for-profit organization offers assistance with purchasing homes; tenants’ rights; affordable housing; informing tenants and landlords about city regulations concerning illegal conversions; harassment and discrimination help, if a person has been attacked or harassed in his home, and foreclosure prevention, which was the focus of the evening.
Alam informed residents that 2007 foreclosure patterns indicate northwestern and southwestern Queens have the highest rates of foreclosures in New York City. These areas also have some of the highest concentrations of immigrants from South Asia, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
When people fail to make payments for three months, they enter into pre-foreclosure, she said.
“Things can move very quickly after that, it is important not to bury your head in the sand and hope your problems will just go away,” Alam said.
She also warned never to ignore any letters you receive from your mortgage holder and to let them know you are working to rectify the problem.
You need to have someone on your side to safeguard your rights, she noted, telling audience members to make sure that the person is from a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved organization.
HUD approved organizations are not-for-profit, she explained, and the first warning sign of a mortgage relief scam is if they ask for money up front or tell you to give them your income tax refund check.
Chhaya is currently booked one month in advance for foreclosure consultations. Contact them at 718-651-1003 or www.chhayacdc.org.

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