FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECITY HOUSING AGENCY JOINS PARODNECK FOUNDATION IN ANNOUNCING EXPANSION OF PROGRAM TO COUNTER EFFECTS OF PREDATORY LENDINGHelp Available for Low Income Seniors Citywide Who Own Their Own Homes
May 21, 2002
Carol Abrams (212) 863-5176
Kim Brown (212) 863-8076
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Jerilyn Perine and Harry DeRienzo, President of the Parodneck Foundation for Self-Help Housing and Community Development, Inc. today announced the expansion of a program to assist senior citizens victimized by predatory lenders. To celebrate approval of a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and the first loan closing in Queens, elected officials and representatives of the financial and philanthropic communities joined Perine and DeRienzo at the Laurelton, Queens home of Fornia and Henry Clark, whose monthly mortgage payments have been reduced by more than 50% by the New York Remediation Project.
The Remediation Project is an innovative collaboration among HPD, the Parodneck Foundation, South Brooklyn Legal Services, the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, Fannie Mae and major lending institutions including JP Morgan Chase Bank, Citibank, Greenpoint Bank, HBSC, Washington Mutual, and Bank of New York. Designed to rescue senior homeowners living on fixed incomes from the disastrous consequences of predatory lending, the program provides affordable loans, home improvements and other forms of financial and technical assistance. Since its inception in Brooklyn in 2001, 26 applications have been approved, and 19 loans totaling more than $4 million, have been committed and closed.
Senior homeowners needing help with a predatory lending problem should call the Parodneck Foundation at (212) 431-9700.
"The expansion of this program into Queens represents another milestone in our effort to reach all the New York City communities impacted by the scourge of predatory lending. I am grateful to our partners and to the Ford Foundation for recognizing this need," said DeRienzo.
Sarah Ludwig, Director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, that promotes access to credit and economic development opportunities, pointed out that sub-prime lending, the target market of predatory lenders, more than tripled in New York City during the 1990's. She said, "Predatory lending abuses occur mainly in communities of color and low and moderate income neighborhoods. This is not only a fair lending problem but an unwarranted sapping of hard-earned equity from homeowners and their communities."
Josh Zinner, Director of the Foreclosure Prevention Project at South Brooklyn Legal Services, added, "I am heartened by a program that actually helps victims, but I am distressed by the time and effort required to settle cases. Oftentimes, we simply cannot find anyone to talk to until litigation is commenced by the loan servicer."
To demonstrate the benefits of the Remediation Project, program administrators cited one case where predatory lending practices resulted in more than $180,000 of mortgage debt including $50,000 of fees and life insurance premiums. Burdened by exorbitant monthly payments, the victim had also fallen behind on real estate taxes, utility charges, and water and sewer fees. Once South Brooklyn Legal Services had negotiated retirement of the predatory loan, JP Morgan Chase Bank provided a conventional 30-year mortgage of $152,800 at 7.25%. HPD's Senior Citizen Home Assistance Program (SCHAP) interest-free loan of $39,550 forgivable after 30 years, financed roof and gutter replacement, kitchen renovation, a new hot water heater, new doors and caulking the windows while a Parodneck Foundation "GAP" loan paid the back taxes and outstanding charges.
Housing Commissioner Perine said, "More often than not the victims of predatory lending live in the very neighborhoods HPD has worked to reclaim from devastation caused by the abandonment and disinivestments that marked the 1970s and 80s. As an agency, we are committed to prevent a repeat of that catastrophe."
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall stated, "Predatory lending has robbed our seniors of their primary and in most cases, only source of wealth and security, the equity in their homes. I am pleased that the project has expanded into Queens and I congratulate the partners and the Ford Foundation for their continuing commitment."
Wesley Wainwright, Senior Vice-President of JPMorgan Chase Community Development Group, said, "We are proud to be a part of this worthwhile collaboration which makes such a difference to senior homeowners."
"This pilot has become a national model for remediation of victims of predatory lending in other markets around the county," said Jackie O'Garrow, deputy director of Fannie Mae's New York Partnership Office. "Through flexible credit standards and a collaborative process with our nonprofit and lender partners, we have been able to offer low cost refinancing solutions to enable seniors to remain in their homes." Fannie Mae will purchase the loans.
HPD is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. A major responsibility of the agency is to encourage the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. For more information about HPD, please call (212) 863-8000 or log onto nyc.gov/hpd.