The “non-profit, non-partisan social justice organization” ACORN is trying to help the community avoid losing their homes while educating others about the housing crisis through its “Stop Foreclosures Campaign.”
Queens has been particularly hit hard by foreclosures. Data released by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) from The Furman Center showed that, between January of 2008 and September of 2008, 5,482 foreclosure notices were received in the borough.
Most of the notices were in south Queens. Jamaica and Hollis received a total of 1,608, Queens Village 956, and South Ozone Park and Howard Beach 563.
The amount of foreclosure notices for other Queens neighborhoods included was 525 for Kew Gardens and Woodhaven; 391 for Rockaway and Broad Channel; 363 for Jackson Heights; 209 for Ridgewood and Maspeth; 195 for Flushing; 175 for Corona and Elmhurst; 162 for Hillcrest and Fresh Meadows; 126 for Bayside and Little Neck; 95 for Astoria; 73 for Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside and 41 for Forest Hills.
In addition, the data also included a breakdown of foreclosure auctions based on zip code. Those for St. Albans and South Jamaica, 11434 and 11436, had the most with 540 foreclosure auctions in 2008, which was the equivalent of one foreclosure for every 50 properties.
Jonathan Westin, Acorn’s Lead Organizer for New York City who has been an organizer in Queens for two years, said that there are several reasons for Queens having a higher foreclosure rate. Along with there being a larger rate of home ownership, the income is not as high and there are many minorities, which are targets for bad loans.
Although ACORN, which has chapters in Hollis, St. Albans and Corona, began its “Stop Foreclosures Campaign” three or four years ago, it has been fighting predatory lending for about 20 years.
The ways in which members of the organization are trying to make a difference when it comes to foreclosures are “by reaching out to thousands of troubled borrowers, negotiating with lenders for better practices, and lobbying lawmakers and regulators to reform the lending industry,” according to its website.
“ACORN is very, very effective,” said St. Albans resident Kelvin Crenshaw, who is working with them to get a more reasonable monthly mortgage payment. “They’re relentless.” Deverisse Davis, also a resident of St. Albans, said, “They are striving and working with the homeowners to stop foreclosure.”
There are several goals that ACORN is working for to help the current situation. Westin said they want to see a mandate of settlement conferences between lenders and home homeowners and mandated counseling to prepare homeowners for the conference. Westin also said they want there to be a one year moratorium so that there is time for counseling.
“I think there needs to be more of a sense of urgency to help homeowners,” Westin said.
Crenshaw agreed that a one year moratorium is needed. He said that procedures and guidelines for lending should be rewritten, it should be illegal to give a person a loan they cannot afford and there should be strict penalties if a lender does so. Also, Crenshaw said that the criterion for becoming a lender should be raised.
Myrna Millington, a Laurelton resident who has also been working with ACORN, said that another thing that would help the crisis overall is passing the stimulus package.
Individuals looking for assistance from ACORN or who are interested in volunteering can also call 347-410-5894.