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After On Year, Over 3,100 Homeowners Call Comptroller’s Foreclosure Prevention Helpline

thompson.jpgAs the subprime crisis continues to escalate across the nation, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today announced that 3,129 individuals and families have called his Foreclosure Prevention Helpline to ask for help to avoid losing their homes.

“Over the past year my office has helped thousands of individuals and families get the help they need to try to prevent foreclosure on their homes,” Thompson said. “It is a sad reality that the number of foreclosures in New York City and across the nation is continuing to rise. It is for this reason that we are stepping up our efforts to help even more New Yorkers in the weeks, months, and year ahead.”

The worsening foreclosure crisis is continuing to substantially impact the New York City area, with several neighborhoods being severely affected. According to RealtyTrac, 6,274 city households have filed foreclosure documents in the first quarter of 2008, with 2,704 in Queens alone.

Comptroller Thompson’s Foreclosure Prevention Helpline – at (212) 669-4600 – has received substantially steeper numbers of calls from Queens than any other borough (a number of calls have come from outside of New York City, and even as far away as Florida.). Many of the callers simply require basic information to assist, while many cases are monitored regularly by the Comptroller’s Office. Of those cases, 1,065 are from New York City.

The breakdown of the current number of active cases shows Queens being hit the hardest:

Queens           399                  37.51%
Brooklyn         342                  32.14%                             
Bronx             160                  14.94%                               
Staten Island   136                  12.78%
Manhattan        28                   02.63%                                 
TOTAL           1065                     100%     

“The majority of these foreclosures are happening in lower-income neighborhoods without access to necessary banking and other financial services,” Thompson said.

During the course of this year, Thompson has unveiled a multi-faceted effort to combat the crisis. It all began on April 26, 2007 when he launched the Helpline. The Helpline links callers with United States Department of Housing and Urban Development certified counselors in their specific neighborhoods. Members of the Comptroller’s Community Action Center have received in-depth training on how to handle foreclosure cases, and monitor each case to ensure help is provided.

Often, Thompson said, many callers indicate that they initially entered into Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) loans with low initial payments and manageable monthly payments. When the interest rate and monthly payment changes take effect, usually within two years, the ARM interest rate can increase drastically and continue to climb by more than one percent and up to a maximum of 16.100% throughout the terms of the loans in some instances. As a result, monthly payments balloon hundreds of dollars, costing thousands of dollars more each year.

Additionally, the Comptroller has been holding a series of Banking Days open to the public in all five boroughs, and has joined with the New York State Democratic Conference and the New York State Banking Department to co-sponsor “Operation Protect Your Home.” This series includes a foreclosure prevention seminars held throughout Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, and also Western New York. At these events, the Comptroller’s staff provides information to improve financial literacy and assist New Yorkers with foreclosure questions.

The Comptroller launched radio and television Public Service Announcements last year to spread the message that help is available. Thompson also has published a Foreclosure Prevention Guide. The guide provides necessary information about mortgages, how to avoid foreclosures, and foreclosure prevention counseling services. Both the guide and the television ad are available at

The Comptroller also has launched the citywide “Save Our Homes” initiative. In this effort, Thompson’s office is working with labor, clergy and neighborhood organizations to highlight the crisis and offer assistance to New Yorkers. Thompson has since been regularly visiting religious institutions to talk about the issue and distribute thousands of guides.

“We will continue this fight,” Thompson said. “There is an urgent need for this crisis to be rapidly addressed at many levels, because it affects every one of us. It is essential to help those in danger of foreclosure stay in their homes for the benefit of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and our city as a whole.”

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