Spring 2014
eVolume 1, Issue 1

Noting that 8.8% of mortgages in Ulster County and 11.1% of mortgages in Sullivan are in foreclosure, Congressman Chris Gibson and RUPCO held Homeowner Help Day in the Village of Ellenville in January. More than 40 homeowners from at least four different counties attended the event and received individual, one-on-one assistance with a variety of housing concerns.

Certified, experienced housing counselors from RUPCO and Orange County Rural Development Advisory Corporation (RDAC) helped financially distressed homeowners who are in foreclosure, worried that they might be, or just generally stressed out about housing and housing related financial issues like mortgages, taxes, energy costs and other concerns. The free event lasted all day and also included participation from a variety of other service providers.

Congressman Gibson

Congressman Gibson

Faith Platt, Ira Spiro and Sally Dolan assign homeowners to councelors.

Faith Platt, Ira Spiro and Sally Dolan assign homeowners to councelors.

“By partnering together, I believe this event provided valuable information to my constituents who need assistance with their home mortgages. As we continue to push for policies that grow our economy, we need to ensure an adequate safety net for our friends and neighbors who are going through a tough time,” said Congressman Gibson.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as of the third quarter of 2013, 8.8% of homes in Ulster and 11.1% of homes in Sullivan county had mortgages in foreclosure. This indicates a substantial need to assist distressed homeowners. Housing counselors have been successful in reducing the percentages of mortgages actually in foreclosure since 2012. But many homeowners are still struggling. Major factors affecting the ability of homeowners to maintain their mortgage payments include loss or reduction of income, increase in taxes and expenses or other life events. Energy costs, health issues and other factors may also impact homeownership.

Kevin O'Connor listens to homeowner concerns.

Kevin O’Connor listens to homeowner concerns.

People still need help, said RUPCO’s CEO Kevin O’Connor. The Federal Reserve Bank reports that household debt is on the rise, and HAMP modifications that were approved in 2009 all have interest rates that will begin to reset, causing higher payments. For these reasons, homeowners need advice and counsel on how to deal with their mortgage payments.

RUPCO’s Vice President of Housing Services Kathy Germain said people attending benefited from other professional services they may not have access to or be able to afford in addition to counseling on foreclosure. Homeowners were invited to attend the free Homeowner Help Day if:

  • they are having difficulty or behind with their mortgage payments
  • are having trouble applying for a mortgage modification or getting an answer regarding a modification
  • get information if you are behind on property taxes
  • need to speak to an attorney about your mortgage, foreclosure or bankruptcy
  • get information due to under or unemployment
  • worried about the tax implications of foreclosure, short sale or deed in lieu will have if you decide to leave your home
  • If they are behind on other debt and need to understand their consumer rights

In addition to housing counselors, homeowners met with attorneys, lender liaisons, Attorney General Office, local property tax clerks, and other information and service providers. Jim Walsh did a great story on it in the Times Herald Record! Have a look. A free continental breakfast was provided and after opening remarks by Congressman Gibson, each homeowner met first with a housing counselor for a confidential, one-on-one assessment of their unique situations. Then the housing counselors directed the homeowners to other service providers in the room who can help them.

“I think everyone there got some sort of help,” said Germain. “We will definitely do this again in other communities later this year.”

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