On July 31, 2020, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a $20 million allocation to help homeowners facing financial burdens because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The money will go toward funding the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), which helps borrowers in New York avoid foreclosure by connecting them to free, mortgage-assistance and foreclosure-relief services. The funding will also pay for homeowner grants.
The New York Office of the Attorney General started the HOPP program in 2012. Since the program began, it has received millions of dollars to create and provide a foreclosure-relief network for New York homeowners. The organizations in this network provide free advice and other forms of aid to homeowners facing foreclosure in New York.
The HOPP program connects New York homeowners to free, qualified mortgage assistance and legal services. For example, you can get:
New York is also offering assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure in the form of grants.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Executive Order 202.28 set a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days starting June 20, 2020. To qualify for the moratorium, the nonpaying borrower must be "someone that is eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
As of July 27, 2020, Administrative Order 157/20 removes a court-ordered suspension of all residential foreclosures but keeps a limited suspension of commercial foreclosures in place until August 19, 2020. Under this order, courts may resume a residential foreclosure action after scheduling at least one conference. This kind of conference will likely be the same or similar to the required settlement conference, even if a settlement conference was previously held. During these conferences, the courts must consider all aspects of the case, including "the effects, if any, that the COVID-19 pandemic has had upon the parties." No auction or sale of property may be scheduled to take place before October 15, 2020.
A new law in New York, Section 9-x of the state's banking statutes, creates a forbearance program for eligible borrowers with non-government loans who can demonstrate a financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 during the "covered period." The covered period starts March 7, 2020, and will last until no restrictions applicable to non-essential gatherings of any size for the county of the borrower's residence are in place. Because New York has 62 counties, which are divided among ten regions, and restrictions are being lifted on a regional basis, the end date for the covered period will vary across the state.
This new law requires lenders and servicers to grant qualified borrowers a forbearance of all monthly payments for up to 180 days. Borrowers also get the option to extend their forbearance for up to another 180 days. Forbearances can be backdated to March 7, 2020. (To get details about this law and learn eligibility requirements, read New York Passes Residential Mortgage Forbearance Law.)
Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a homeowner with a federally backed mortgage loan, regardless of delinquency status, who's experiencing a financial hardship that's due directly or indirectly to COVID-19, can get a forbearance of up to 360 days. (To learn more about CARES Act forbearances, read Mortgage Payment Relief During the Coronavirus Outbreak.)
To find a housing counselor or legal services organization through HOPP, call 855-HOME-456 (855-466-3456) or go to the HOPP website.
The New York State Attorney General's Office provides a website that has free information on topics like homeowner scams, foreclosure, reverse mortgages, and tax liens. The site can also connect homeowners with free mortgage assistance services that HOPP partners provide.
You can also call your servicer directly to discuss available options if you're having trouble making your mortgage payments. If you still need assistance after contacting your servicer and HOPP, or you think you might want to fight a foreclosure in court, consider talking to a local foreclosure attorney.
Effective date: July 31, 2020