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New York AG Highlights Success of Home Retention Programs

avoid-foreclosureNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, along with housing advocates and local lawmakers, on Thursday highlighted the success of three programs his office has created in the last three years in order to help families avoid foreclosure and keep their homes.

More than 6,800 families have avoided foreclosure in the last five years with the help of those three programs, the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), New York State Mortgage Assistance Program (NYS-MAP), and AGScamHelp.com.

"No family should ever lose their home because they could not speak to a housing counselor or get a small loan to refinance their mortgage," Schneiderman said. "When I came into office, there were virtually no resources available to help families in the Hudson Valley—and across the state—who had been hurt by the foreclosure crisis. I am proud that as a result of these great programs and resources, my office has been able to keep nearly 50,000 families in their homes since then."

HOPP, a network of nearly 90 housing counseling and legal services agencies that provide free, high quality assistance to families at risk of foreclosure, has served more than 49,000 homeowners in New York in the three years since its launch in June 2012. The program is supported by $100 million from the multi-billion dollar settlements with banks that Schneiderman negotiated in the wake of the financial crisis.

NYS-MAP began in October 2014, providing small loans to at-risk families to pay off debts that prevent them from obtaining a mortgage modification. The loans from NYS-MAP, which can be as much as $40,000, are intended to help families at risk of foreclosure pay off mortgage arrears, second or third mortgage liens that are delinquent, or unpaid property tax bills, and the like HOPP, the NYS-MAP is funded with money from the bank settlements. NYS-MAP has approved more than 300 loans statewide in New York totaling $9.3 million. The average loan amount has been slightly more than $30,000.

The third program, AGScamHelp.com, is a Web-based app launched in December 2014 to help homeowners determine whether a mortgage assistance company has been vetted by a government agency. Like HOPP and NYS-MAP, AGScamHelp.com is funded by money from the bank settlements and was launched in direct response to a growing number of mortgage rescue scams both in New York and nationwide. In New York alone, more than 2,700 foreclosure rescue scam complaints documenting $8.25 million in losses were submitted to the Lawyer Committee for Civil Rights during a four-and-a-half year period from March 2010 to September 2014. With AGScamHelp.com, homeowners can search the name of an individual or company to determine if the entity is government vetted – a member of the HOPP network or a counseling agency certified by HUD. If the entity is not government vetted, the homeowner is warned to proceed with caution and given tips on how to identify a foreclosure rescue scam, according to Schneiderman's office.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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