By Ivan Pereira
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and two of his fellow City Hall members gathered in Corona last Thursday to give borough homeowners a helping hand in dealing with the ongoing housing crisis.
Comrie, who represents the city district that leads the state in the number of foreclosures, joined Councilwomen Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) at PS 19, on Roosevelt Avenue, and brought several housing experts to tackle a wide variety of issues.
The councilman said too many homeowners have been left confused and helpless with the mortgage problems, so he brought the help to them for free.
“This is one of the best ways where we can put those looking for assistance in touch with the people that can support them,” he said in a statement.
Representatives from agencies — including the city Departments of Buildings, city Human Resources Administration, the Queens Community House, Queens Legal Services, the Legal Aid Society, the Queens Smoke Free Partnership and Housing Court Answers — were on the panel.
Over the last half decade, the number of foreclosures in southeast Queens has risen due to a large number of homes that were purchased with subprime mortgages. Despite new laws at the city, state and federal level, thousands of residents have either lost their homes or are close to defaulting on their mortgages, according to Comrie.
The councilman added that the problem affects everyone in the area as well.
Studies show that the foreclosures have not only caused Queens home prices to fall by as much as 40 percent since the crisis began, but it has also led to a 2 percent increase in crime for every block where there is a foreclosed house, according to Comrie.
The experts talked about safety and foreclosure proceedings and were able to meet with clients one on-one to answer their specific questions.
“I was pleased we were able to bring people from the community together so they can get answers regarding their housing and foreclosure concerns,” Comrie said.
In addition to the foreclosure topics, the panel also discussed another growing problem: tenant rights.
The experts talked about how landlords are obligated by the law to patch holes in ceilings, provide heat during the winter months and remove mold.
“This is also an opportunity for landlords to learn how to do right by their tenants,” Comrie said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.