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Struggling New York Homeowners Can Seek Free Help Before Foreclosure Moratorium Ends

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Housing experts are concerned that New York could soon experience a home foreclosure crisis. Federal and state moratoriums are currently set to expire at the end of August, and organizations like Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York are encouraging homeowners who utilized coronavirus-related assistance to prepare before it ends. Housing Counsel Paralegal Rose Marie Roberts said people may not fully understand how these paused payments will affect their mortgage in the future.

“Many homeowners who faced the covid hardship were granted what they call a forbearance, which is just taking that lump sum of money and putting it at the end, at the end of the forbearance period,” said Roberts. “There’s a lot of different retention options available, but something has to be done. The bank is not just going to forget you owe that money.”

But assistance is coming. The American Rescue Plan offers funding to states to help homeowners who are behind on their payments. Roberts says New York State has been approved, and expects to receive around 5.5 million dollars in aid. The state needs to submit a plan for that money to the US Treasury by the end of the month.

“And then it’s still probably be a few months before things are actually implemented and available to apply for. You know, we are concerned about the timing. August 31st might be a little too soon,” said Roberts.

Roberts says the entire process is complicated, and discourages people from doing it alone. Legal Aid Society of Mid New York is offering free legal assistance to those who are currently or could face foreclosure. They have seven offices, including ones in Syracuse, Utica, and Oswego. You can apply for services online on their website or by calling 1-877-777-6152.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.