The Homeowner Protection Program or “HOPP” helps homeowners in New York avoid foreclosure by connecting them to free, qualified foreclosure relief services. Keep reading to learn more about HOPP, how the program might be able to help you, and how to avoid scammer foreclosure relief services.
The New York Office of the Attorney General started the HOPP program in 2012. HOPP pays for a statewide network of nearly 90 housing counseling and legal services organizations that provide free advice and other forms of help to homeowners facing foreclosure in New York. Since HOPP started, more than 80,000 families have received free help to avoid foreclosure through the program.
Funding for HOPP comes from bank settlements, like the National Mortgage Settlement, which was a legal settlement between the five largest mortgage servicing banks, 49 states, and the federal government over foreclosure abuses. The settlement provided millions of dollars to the states, including New York, to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
In 2017, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that HOPP received an additional $20 million in funding.
HOPP provides two main forms of assistance: housing counseling and access to legal services organizations.
Not-for-profit housing counselors give free advice to homeowners on ways to avoid foreclosure and assist homeowners in various other ways, like by:
(Learn more about how using a housing counselor, like a HUD-approved housing counselor, might be helpful if you're facing foreclosure.)
Talking to a legal services organization is often a good idea because New York foreclosure law is complicated. Here's a very brief introduction to a few key components of the foreclosure process in New York:
If the property is owner-occupied, New York law requires that the foreclosing party send the borrower a notice at least 90 days before starting the foreclosure. The foreclosing party then starts the foreclosure by filing a lawsuit it court. After the judicial foreclosure starts, the court schedules a settlement conference to happen within 60 days after the foreclosing party files proof of service with the court clerk. The reason for the settlement conference is to give the borrower and the foreclosing party a chance to agree on a way to avoid foreclosure, like with a loan modification, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or any other workout option. If the conference doesn't lead to a foreclosure alternative, the foreclosure continues and the property is eventually sold at a foreclosure sale. If the foreclosing party mishandles any part of the foreclosure process, you might have a defense to the foreclosure.
HOPP connects homeowners who are facing a New York foreclosure to organizations that can provide legal advice, as well as advocacy and litigation services.
The New York State Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) is an enhancement to HOPP, and provides interest-free, no-payment loans to eligible New York homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure. (Read more about MAP loans.)
Be suspicious if a private company other than your lender or servicer solicits you for foreclosure relief services, especially if the company charges an upfront fee.
Scam artists—usually for-profit loan modification and other foreclosure rescue companies—go through foreclosure filings to look for potential victims who are desperate to save their homes. These companies then send official-looking letters with logos, names, or website addresses designed to trick homeowners into thinking the company is part of an official government program, like HOPP, or a law firm. These companies promise to help save your home and then fail to deliver after you’ve paid them. Even if a foreclosure rescue company is successful in helping you avoid a foreclosure, you’ll have paid money for help that you could have received for free from a not-for-profit counselor funded by HOPP or the federal government. (Learn more about foreclosure rescue scams.)
To help homeowners avoid these types of scams, the New York State Attorney General’s Office set up web-based app called AGScamHelp to help homeowners determine whether a company has been vetted by a government agency and, if not, find a trusted organization that can provide help. (If you think you have already been scammed, you may file a complaint with the New York State Office of the Attorney General.)
To find a housing counseling or legal services organization through HOPP, call 855-HOME-456 or go to the Homeowner Protection Program website.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments, you may call your servicer directly to discuss available options. Servicers typically offer different ways to get caught up on your payments, like forbearance agreements and repayment plans, or you might qualify for an in-house ("proprietary") loan modification to make your monthly payment more affordable.
If you still need assistance after contacting your servicer and HOPP, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney in your area.