By Ivan Pereira
City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) is urging homeowners in southeast Queens who have been devastated by the mortgage crisis to take part in a new city initiative designed to give them a helping hand.
The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Homebuyer Assistance Program will be giving out thousands of dollars to qualified loan applicants and offer free consulting under its NSP2 Buyer Assistance Program. The agency said the loans would be targeted at homeowners in the Jackson Heights, Corona, Rockways, Bellerose, Rosedale, Howard Beach, Jamaica and South Ozone Park neighborhoods.
Since the southeast Queens areas lead the state in the number of foreclosures, Sanders said the assistance would go a long way.
“The Homebuyer Assistance Program is a terrific new program that will give my constituents an opportunity to purchase a home that may otherwise have been left vacant and become a breeding ground for criminal activity, overgrowth and urban decline,” he said in a statement.
The program is funded by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to HPD. Qualified applicants are eligible for forgivable loans of up to $80,000 that they can use to purchase homes in selected Queens neighborhoods that were chosen by the city due to the large number of foreclosures.
There are 1,656 mortgages on the verge of foreclosure in Queens, according to HUD.
In addition to meeting strict requirements set forth by the city and HUD, the applicant must use the loan for the home that will be his or her primary residence.
“Those who act now on this time-sensitive program will reap the most benefit from a revitalized housing market,” Ken Inadomi, executive director of the New York Mortgage Coalition, a nonprofit working with the city to help facilitate the program, said in a statement.
Sanders, who has been promoting the program along with Councilmen Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), said the coalition’s representatives are available to answer questions and assist homeowners in danger of losing their homes.
“The tragedy of bankruptcy, default and foreclosure has left a deep scar, both figurative and literal, on the landscape of New York City in general and my district in particular,” he said. “Now, finally, we have a tool to fight back, put families back in these homes and ensure they have the skills and guidance not to overextend their finances in this new volatile marketplace.”
Log on to nymc.org/nsp2 for more information about the program.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.