State banking regulators are bringing their foreclosure prevention road show back to Western New York this week, as housing counselors and state specialists will be in Amherst and South Buffalo over two days to provide help to struggling homeowners.
The Department of Financial Services’ “mobile command center” will visit the Cazenovia Resource Center, at 155 Cazenovia St., between Abbott Road and Seneca Street in South Buffalo, on Thursday and the Eggertsville-Snyder Library, at 4622 Main Street in Amherst, on Friday. Assistance will be available both days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“It’s important that homeowners who start to see financial problems know that there are more options available to them if they act sooner, rather than later,” Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of financial services, said in a press release. “The foreclosure prevention program allows homeowners to meet one-on-one with foreclosure prevention specialists who are knowledgeable and can offer practical guidance.”
The two visits, which follow an earlier stop in Buffalo by the state’s foreclosure prevention program, represent the state’s latest outreach effort to offer help to consumers burdened by unaffordable mortgages and at risk of losing their homes. The program was started in January under the direction of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and has visited more than a dozen sites with high foreclosure rates across the state.
While the five counties with the highest levels of foreclosures in the state are all located in the New York City area, the sixth-highest county in recent years has consistently been Erie County.
“It’s great that Governor Cuomo’s DFS van is getting the word out that free foreclosure prevention is available to homeowners through housing counselors and legal services attorneys,” said Lauren Breen, attorney at the Western New York Law Center in Buffalo.
The program allows for confidential meetings with state foreclosure experts who can assess where homeowners are in the foreclosure process and what help can be provided. The state can help consumers apply for mortgage modifications, help them communicate with or intervene on their behalf with mortgage lenders or servicers, or take complaints for investigation.
“The Department of Financial Services Mobile Relief Unit continues to bring important exposure to the prolonged foreclosure crisis and to the availability of foreclosure prevention services,” said Sandra Becker, senior housing programs manager, Belmont Housing Resources for WNY. “By going to varying neighborhoods across the State it has also increased the accessibility to these services. Foreclosure is not just an urban issue, it is effecting every community, neighborhood and economic class.”
Homeowners who can not meet in person can call the state’s foreclosure hotline at 800-269-0990, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or they can file complaints online at www.dfs.ny.gov.
The state also warned consumers to be wary of anyone asking for an upfront fee to help them get a loan modification, save a home from default or stop a foreclosure or tax sale. Such fees are generally prohibited by state law. Homeowners should also avoid anyone who offers to save a home if the consumer signs or transfers the deed over while the homeowner catches up on payments, and should never make payments to anyone other than the mortgage company.