Gov. David Paterson made a plea last Thursday morning to federal lawmakers, saying in a legislative breakfast that New York’s congressional delegation should blaze a trail towards correcting the foreclosure crisis.
“As the data clearly shows, this is a situation where we need to take immediate action,” Paterson said. “It was a lack of action that helped get us here, and more inaction is inexcusable.”
Paterson’s breakfast was attended by several notable members of New York State’s congressional delegation, including Representatives Charles Rangel, Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks and Sen. Charles Schumer, among others.
Striking foreclosure numbers are nothing new in media reports, as a battery of articles in nearly every news and finance publication in New York has tracked the volatile housing market for the past year.
Paterson asserted that the toughest times in the housing market were likely ahead, a fact that’s been corroborated by upwardly trending numbers in the category of first-time foreclosures, and by the number of people in the state who have yet to be helped by outreach programs designed to assist homeowners adjust their mortgages.
In the first quarter of 2008, there were more than 900 first-time foreclosures scheduled for litigation in the city, compared to just 600 the previous quarter. Those numbers were released by propertyshark.com, a Web site dedicated to tracking foreclosures throughout the country.
The report quoted a data acquisitions manager at the site, Ashleigh Rose Clark, who said the most recent numbers were staggering.
“These are the highest quarterly levels of foreclosures we have seen in the New York City metro area since we began tracking them, with substantial activity in Queens,” she said.
Neighborhoods most severely affected were in the southeast portion of the borough, although Howard Beach, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill also had high numbers.
The state’s own foreclosure statistics — which track litigation on every type of foreclosure action — were even more dire.
According to the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, 70 percent of homeowners who are currently delinquent in their loan payment are not on track for any loss mitigation, a number that Paterson said was not acceptable.
“(T)here is still a great deal of work that needs to be done at the federal level,” Paterson said. “Helping people keep their homes should continue to be a top national priority and is certainly one of mine as governor of New York.”
Paterson also referred to corrective action within the state, especially recent legislation introduced by state Sen. Frank Padavan, of Bellerose, and Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn.
Brennan and Padavan have advocated for a moratorium on foreclosures in the state, a measure that’s been backed by many involved in state government, including local politicians and presidential candidate and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
According to Padavan’s office, the bill is currently in committee in the state Senate. Padavan’s spokesman said the bill was “a priority for the senator,” who is working to make sure the legislation matches its partner in the state Assembly, which passed Wednesday.
As homeowners wait desperately for a solution, the government, both on the state and federal level, seemed to be sitting on its hands, according to Richard Neiman, New York’s superintendent of banks.
Neiman said he was disappointed that action has taken so long to come forward on the federal level, and hoped that a solution could be pushed through quickly in the interim to bail out homeowners who were in obviously dire straits.
“Collaboration of state and federal agencies and institutions in addressing the mortgage crisis is vital to our success,” Neiman said in a statement. “I continue to call on nonparticipating servicers and the Comptroller of the Currency to work with us and share aggregated data so we can truly assess the breadth of the efforts being made.”