Tag Archives: Homeowners

Ridgewood Property Owners Association hosts resource forum for landlords

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


In an effort to assist homeowners with concerns ranging from property tax issues and home repairs to violation removals and energy cost reduction, the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) partnered with the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation (HPD) to host a special Landlord Resource Fair on Sept. 3 at I.S. 93 in Ridgewood.

Homeowners and residents were given the opportunity to meet one-on-one with experts from a host of city agencies and utility providers to learn more about special programs, savings and incentives available to local home and building owners. Representatives from local agencies, including the city’s Department of Sanitation, HPD Preservation Finance Department, NYC Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYC EEC) and HPD Neighborhood Preservation Service, were on hand to offer advice and services.

“We do this at our September meeting every year,” explained RPOCA’s current counsel and former president, Paul Kerzner. “There are about eight agencies here from the city, and the people are lined up to talk with each one. They get a lot out of it and it works. Plus we always get a new crop of homeowners that come to the meetings and sign up to become RPOCA members.”

The fair was organized by Pam Glaser, the director of public outreach and education for the NYC HPD’s Office of Neighborhood Strategies.

“We work with local groups, in this case RPOCA, and we’re happy to do this,” Glaser explained. “We go out several times a month to do either owner or tenant nights in all five boroughs.”

“This has got to be the sixth or seventh year that we’ve done this with HPD, and Pam Glaser is a pleasure to work with,” Kerzner added. “She knows the Ridgewood neighborhood and she knows what’s on the mind of the small Ridgewood property owner.”


Representatives from the NYC EEC were on hand to discuss loan options and financing for energy efficiency and fuel conversions with homeowners. The NYC EEC recently partnered with the NYC HPD on an initiative called The Green Housing Preservation Program (GHPP) aimed at improving energy efficiency and water conservation through upgrades such as the installation of efficient light fixtures, low-flow water fixtures and insulation. A maximum loan of $50,000 per unit is available to homeowners of five or more units per building.

“Our organization was founded in 2011 by the city through a grant from the Department of Energy,” explained Posie Constable, director of business development for the NYC EEC. “We use the money we receive from the DOE to lend to building and property owners to reduce the amount of energy they use in their building, which in turn helps improve the building property value and tenant comfort.”

Representatives from Solar One, the city’s leading organization on green energy education, were also on hand to help homeowners with questions about converting their hot water and electrical systems over to solar energy. Kerzner, a longtime fan and advocate of the use of solar energy, converted his Ridgewood home to solar power nearly 10 years ago.

“Solar is very affordable,” he said. “My electric bill is $6.42 a month, in both the winter and summer, so it’s definitely worthwhile.” Kerzner estimates the return on the initial investment in solar panels to be roughly four to six years.


Blacks and Hispanics in Queens struggling to become homeowners: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre. Charts courtesy StreetEasy.

Queens is the most diverse county in the country — not including some Alaskan Islands with tiny populations.

The borough is so proud of this fact that politicians usually begin speeches with it, businesses highlight it in pitches and everyday residents rave about the various ethnic foods that could be found around the “World’s Borough.”

But as diverse as it is, when it comes to homeownership, the borough looks similar to the rest of the city and country, as blacks and Hispanics struggle with the process of getting a conventional mortgage, according to a new study by real estate website StreetEasy. Only 8.8 percent of conventional mortgage applicants in Queens are from Hispanic residents, while blacks account for just 4.6 percent.

“Queens is one of the more diverse populations in the city. You can see that in the racial composition,” said Alan Lightfeldt, StreetEasy data scientist. “But it’s interesting to see the mortgage applications, because it really falls off. I think that really highlights the disparity of access to the process especially in the first phase.”


StreetEasy crunched the numbers for homeownership, mortgage application rates, and denial rates for blacks, Hispanics, Asians and whites in the five boroughs in 2013 through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the American Community Survey.

When it comes to denial rates of conventional loans from Queens residents, blacks and Hispanics lead the way again. Under 5 percent of mortgage applications in the borough were from blacks,  and 31.6 percent of those loan applications were denied. And 29.5 percent of conventional home loan applications from Hispanics were denied.

Interesting to note, Asians have the most mortgage applications for conventional loans in Queens with 41.6 percent, and a denial rating of just 19.6 percent. Lightfeldt said while the data doesn’t show if blacks and Hispanics are being discriminated against, the fact that Asians are able to get loans reflects that banks aren’t focused on minority status but are being strict with qualifications. This may be especially true, because financial institutions are wary of creating another housing bubble.

“I think that is another point to make why this isn’t an outright discrimination,” Lightfeldt said. “Your ability to pay back a loan and credit is what banks point to and because blacks and Hispanics struggle in that area it becomes very difficult for them to become homeowners.”

However, because they have low credit or low income rates, blacks and Hispanics in Queens are taking advantage of Federal Housing Administration loans more than the other races, especially blacks with a leading 36.3 percent of the borough’s FHA loan applications.

Also, although it’s hard for blacks to get conventional mortgages today, a large number of blacks in Queens still do own homes, mostly in the southeast region of the borough. In fact, 47.4 percent of blacks in Queens own a home, which is higher than the city (26.5) and national averages (41.9).


Disaster Recovery Center to close

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Homeowners in Queens have only one more day to visit their local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC).

The center – located at 144-06 94th Street in Jamaica – will close on Wednesday, October 5 at 5 p.m., according to the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

The DRC in Queens opened on Monday, September 26 after Hurricane Irene in order to provide residents seeking help with FEMA disaster recovery specialists. The specialists were able to provide residents with more information about state disaster aid and disaster unemployment programs.

But although the center will close, residents can still apply for federal funding with FEMA until October 28.

To register, call 800-621-3362 or visitwww.disasterassitance.gov. Be sure to provide your social security number and insurance information.