Tag Archives: housing

AG announces foreclosure prevention grants


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Statistics show that Queens is the borough with the highest share of first-time foreclosures in 2012, and now Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced that his office plans to award $3 million in foreclosure prevention services to assist New Yorkers struggling with possible foreclosure. The grant includes $1.5 million for organizations serving New York City.

In January, Schneiderman sought assistance from 31 non-profit legal outfits and legal-aid organizations to provide services to homeowners in foreclosure or at risk.
“As our state faces tight budget times, we must be creative and aggressive in our efforts to support working families who are struggling to stay in their homes,” said Schneiderman. “Funding legal services is essential to bringing relief for the homeowners and communities that have been devastated by the crash of the housing market, and these grants will provide thousands of New Yorkers with the legal expertise they desperately need to defend their rights in court.”

Schneiderman designated a separate $15 million of the $132 million out of the national mortgage servicing settlement as additional funding for foreclosure prevention; $9 million of those funds will be set aside to help the state’s Foreclosure Prevention Services Program – a service previously set to expire on April 1, and $6 million will go towards housing and community renewal initiatives statewide.

Hear That? It’s the Queens housing boom


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

With economies around the world foundering, the Queens housing market appears to be floating just fine.

According to data from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Queens had the most home sales of any borough in the first quarter of this year with 2,919 – representing a 13 percent increase from last year. The average sales price of a home in Queens also declined by two percent to $391,000.

The neighborhoods with the most home sales in the borough were Flushing, with 301, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, which had 265 sales, and Springfield Gardens and Jamaica which experienced 237 sales.

The housing boom in Queens is part of positive results citywide, as average home sales prices and sales volume remained steady across the five boroughs in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time last year, while the number of total sales increased by 16 percent from last quarter.

Competitive prices and low mortgage rates attracted buyers and stimulated the growth, according to REBNY, the city’s leading real estate trade association.

“The trend has been somewhat upward, meaning even in the fourth quarter we didn’t see a dip when compared to the first quarter of last year,” said Mike Slattery, the senior vice president of REBNY. “The fact that it has been a steady rise and not a seasonal adjustment is noteworthy. Queens has been a strong, solid upper middle class borough for a very long time, and the broad based strength of its neighborhoods continues to make it an appealing location for home buyers.”

Slattery expects the housing market to continue to grow and said a survey of brokers conducted by REBNY shows “continued uptick in contracts signed.”
John O’Kane, manager of O’Kane Realty, located at 72-01 Grand Avenue in Maspeth, believes a variety of factors have made buying a house in Queens attractive.
“Interest rates are historically low, so anyone who can afford to buy is buying,” said O’Kane. “You get a lot of New York flavor in Queens also. It’s the melting pot of the world.”

The condo market particularly buoyed sales in Queens, as the borough experienced a 36 percent increase in transactions – led by Long Island City, which saw a 53 percent increase from the previous quarter.

Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces, which handles sales for a number of high-profile condo buildings in L.I.C., says inventory is getting low while demand is growing.
Modern Spaces represents The View, which is 85 percent full and demanding $950 to $1,000 per square foot, and The Industry, which has sold roughly 51 percent of its spaces and costs as high as $850 per square foot. The Vista and the Bindery are new high rises that will likely introduce 250 to 300 condos into the market between 2012 and 2013, according to Benaim.

“Everyone loves L.I.C. when they come here,” Benaim said. “We are getting a lot of ‘Manhattanites’ because of overpricing in Manhattan. The market in L.I.C. is extremely busy.

I haven’t seen it this busy since 2006 or 2007. Years ago we had to pitch L.I.C. as an up and coming neighborhood. But it is not up and coming anymore, it is here.”

Affordable housing for seniors


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

Some seniors may soon have an affordable place to call home.

Officials from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the MET Council celebrated the opening of Council Towers VI in Pomonok.

Located at 71st Avenue between Kissena and Parsons boulevards, the building is the sixth in a series of completed senior housing buildings designed to serve as supportive affordable housing for New York City residents 62 years of age and older.

Council Towers VI was developed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), a multibillion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year. To date, the plan has funded the creation or preservation of over 129,200 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs, with 12,500 of those units in Queens.

“HUD has no higher mission than improving people’s lives and strengthening communities, and this wonderful senior development does just that,” said Mirza Orriols, deputy regional administrator. “The latest statistics indicate that one in five New York City residents live in poverty, many of whom, unfortunately, are the elderly living on meager pensions or income.”

Council Towers VI is an eight-story building with 77 one-bedroom rental units and one unit reserved for an on-site superintendent. Twenty-five percent of the units have a preference for existing NYCHA tenants. All units have a senior preference for tenants age 62 and older. The units will be available to tenants earning no more than 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI) or $28,650 for an individual. The tenants’ rent will be set at 30 percent household income.

Residents of Council Towers VI have access to a variety of on-site services. Management staff will provide case management, benefits and entitlements advice and advocacy, as well as on-site education and recreational activities. An experienced social worker will serve as a support service coordinator. Staff will be equipped to refer tenants to off-site licensed health care agencies to provide home care, adult daycare, hospital services, medical education and nursing home options. Additional on-site services include Meals-On-Wheels, housekeeping assistance, counseling and recreational trips. Through the New York State Department of Transportation, Met Council provides transportation for the elderly to essential appointments and recreational outings.

 

Help for Home Owners


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The city is aiming to restore the homeownership hopes of Queens residents hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew Wambua joined Queens elected officials, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York Mortgage Coalition on November 15 to announce the commencement of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) Buyer Assistance Program.

The program, which targets areas in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, grants qualified homebuyers with as much as $80,000 in forgivable loans towards the purchase of foreclosed or vacant homes in eligible neighborhoods. Housing counseling and homeowner training will also be provided for participants as part of the program.

“HUD’s investment in New York City via the NSP2 program is a key component in Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to help reverse the deleterious effects of foreclosure on our neighborhoods,” said Steel. “The single-family foreclosure crisis has significantly impacted neighborhoods across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, and stabilizing these communities is critical to New York City’s economic recovery. HPD’s efforts in securing this funding and working with the NY Mortgage Coalition in creating this initiative will help make homes affordable for qualified buyers looking to put down roots in these neighborhoods.”

After the creation of NSP2, HPD assessed the level of foreclosure activity in each eligible census area between 2007 and 2009. During their study, the department determined that roughly 8,133 total mortgages were in danger of foreclosure, 5,780 of which were in Queens.

Eligible neighborhoods were selected by HUD based on the severity to which they were adversely impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Jackson Heights, Corona, the Rockways, Bellerose, Rosedale, Howard Beach, Jamaica and South Ozone Park are the Queens communities eligible for the program.

“The NSP has been able to help stabilize housing prices and neighborhoods in Queens,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who represents Jamaica and Rosedale. “Having worked with constituents and with non-profits in the borough, I have seen firsthand how this program helped counsel new homeowners, preserve the quality of life within the community, and give us a fighting chance against the foreclosure crisis, which makes me glad to see it will continue.”

Prospective homebuyers who hope to participate in the Buyer Assistance Program cannot have an income in excess of 120 percent of the Area Median Income. They are also required to receive a minimum of eight hours of homeownership counseling and the foreclosed or vacant home must become the participant’s primary residence.

“Investing in our neighborhoods is essential if we are to preserve them,” said Wambua. “NSP helps us to educate and empower families, allowing those who qualify to make affordable investments in areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that have borne the brunt of small home foreclosures.”