Southeast Queens is the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, and perhaps hardest hit is the 6th Congressional District, prompting one lawmaker to publicly urge constituents to attend an upcoming event where they can get the help they need to escape financial distress.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) partnered with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a nonprofit community advocacy mortgage broker, to host a “Save the Dream Event” where consumers can get assistance in purchasing a new home or reduce payments on an existing unaffordable mortgage.
Since there wasn’t a facility large enough in Queens to be able to accommodate the expected crowds, it is being held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. Meeks made the announcement at a press conference on Monday at his Jamaica office.
NACA will host all the major lenders, investors, counselors and underwriters. It will take place from April 26 through 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For documents needed and to register, go to online to NACA.com
Mavis Green-Burton of Jamaica and her husband had monthly mortgage payments of $3,500 and went to a NACA event in Atlantic City, NJ seeking help. The group was able to reduce their monthly payments to $1,300. “We were in financial distress and we were about to lose our home, so I thank God I was able to attend the NACA program,” Green-Burton said.
NACA’s contracts with the lenders say they can go as low as a two percent mortgage rate to make it affordable and if that doesn’t work, in some cases they can reduce the outstanding principle, according to Darren Duarte, a spokesman for NACA.
People can get approved for new mortgages and through NACA there is no down payment, no closing costs or fees, and it is presently at a fixed rate of 3.65 percent for 30 years, Duarte said.
“If we can document and verify that the homeowner’s mortgage is unaffordable, there is a great chance that we can help that homeowner stay in their home,” Duarte said. “As a nonprofit, we have legally binding contracts with every major lender in the country including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who are on site.”
Anne Graves of St. Albans was also helped by NACA. She had an adjustable rate mortgage and her interest rate was 11 percent. “NACA was able to knock that down to 2.5 percent, with a savings of $300 a month,” Graves said. “So, it made my mortgage more affordable and that’s NACA’s dream and it’s my dream.”
After recognizing that many people in his district were allowing their homes to be foreclosed upon without calling their bank or seeking expert assistance because they did not know to whom to turn, Meeks worked with area groups and expanded his office hours inviting mortgage foreclosures counselors to assist constituents.
But he decided that more help was needed to make a dent in the crisis — where thousands of homeowners are struggling to hold on to their property — and that’s where NACA came in.
“It was a dream for my mother to move from public housing in East Harlem and buy a home — that was her dream,” Meeks said. “And by doing that, she was able to put me through college as well as my two sisters and brother. It’s the American dream and I want to make sure that everyone has that opportunity.”