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City Council Bill Will Offer Extra Foreclosure Prevention/ Support

Notice Will Be Given To Housing Dept.

The City Council voted on a bill to strengthen and support neighborhoods when a property in the community is facing foreclosure.

The legislation requires banks to notify the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) within 15 days of beginning foreclosure proceedings against a residential property. By providing HPD with notice shortly after a foreclosure action is initiated, this bill is intended to allow the Department to focus its resources on providing support to more financially distressed properties.

The Council will also consider legislation requiring the city to post the terms of its contracts on a publicly accessible, online database, pro- moting transparency and accountability.

When faced with foreclosure, the physical condition of a financially burdened property often deteriorates quickly, leading to a range of justified complaints from concerned tenants and neighbors. The goal of this legislation is to alert HPD of foreclosures in a more efficient way so that when possible, it can focus its resources to help safeguard tenants from living in substandard conditions.

As financially distressed buildings are more susceptible to conversion into boarding houses to generate income, this bill would also assure that other agencies responsible for the enforcement of conditions related to illegal conversions will have access to critical financial information.

Additionally, HPD will be required to post on its website the number of foreclosure actions that have begun and remain pending in each community district on a quarterly basis. The agency must also publish basic information about buildings with 20 or more units that are subject to foreclosure.

Under this legislation, banks who fail to notify HPD are liable for a civil penalty for each week that they do not alert the agency.

“We’ve all seen the effect the foreclosure crisis has had on our city. Blocks that were once robust are now decrepit. We’ve seen properties fall into disrepair. And we know that buildings in foreclosure are likely to have severe violations. But we don’t always know that buildings are in trouble until it’s too late,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “With swift notice, HPD will be better equipped to target distressed buildings, closely monitoring them to ensure they don’t fall into disrepair. The bill’s online component will provide communities and housing advocates with greater information about the effects foreclosure has had on the neighborhoods they love and want to see prosper.”

“Our city continues to feel the impact of the foreclosure crisis that has been gripping this nation for the past several years. The reporting requirements in this bill will add a certain level of transparency to foreclosure actions so that the city can keep track of these financially distressed properties and help prevent them from falling into a state of disrepair,” said Housing & Buildings Committee Chair Erik Martin Dilan. “The bill will also make it easier for the city to be aware of which neighborhoods continue to suffer the most from the foreclosure crisis so that resources can be targeted to those areas.”

“This law will help Queens and struggling homeowners across the city refinance their mortgages. People in my district have emphasized to me even when they are fortunate enough to get a hearing with the bank, the representatives from the banks are not prepared. This legislation will notify all stakeholders in the modification process, and ensure that everyone has the information needed to help families looking to refinance,” aded Council Member Leroy Comrie.

The second piece of legislation the Council is considering calls for public access to information about city contract procurement. There are more than 15,000 contracts in the city budget, making it nearly impossible to conduct a comprehensive analysis, catch mistakes or identify places to cut.

New York City’s contracts support major initiatives that affect the lives of millions of New Yorkers. The City regularly enters into individual contracts that are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, occasionally even billions-and it’s imperative to establish appropriate transparency about how these public dollars are spent.

This bill requires the city to ensure that fundamental information about city contracts is summarized in plain language and made available to the public online. The database, and most of the required information, would be available on July 1. The database will be fully complete by July 1 of next year.

“No one questions that outsourcing is a necessary tool for providing government services. We need to contract out to the private sector for a vast array of important government functions. But, we cannot let any corner of our budget remain unexamined, and right now, it is nearly impossible to get information on our contracts in an easy, accessible way,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “I first mentioned the idea for this bill in my State of the City speech and it’s now more relevant than ever. Faced with the current fiscal reality and a ballooning contracts budget, it’s imperative to know how each and every city dollar is spent. That way, both the Council and the public can see exactly where our money is going and where we can cut back.”

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