While the nation’s troubled economy is slowly going into a state of recovery, that fact is cold comfort to those still reeling from its devastating effects over the last several years.
With a high jobless rate still the order of the day in New York, foreclosure is always a looming threat for thousands out-of-work residents, many of whom feel they have no where to turn when facing the loss of their homes.
To help combat this problem, Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo, D-Merrick, recently brought his mobile Foreclosure Prevention Center to to try and help families in danger of being turned out onto the street by the banks.
“With unemployment and the foreclosure rate throughout New York State at an all-time high, I worked with the Governor’s office to see what assistance can we provide to those in need,” Fuschillo said. “That’s why the Department of Financial Services’ mobile unit with foreclosure counselors is here today- to answer questions and help people.”
The services offered to those facing foreclosure range from help negotiating with the bank and tips on how to re-finance your mortgage to the ability to report violations or institutions attempting to take away your home unjustly.
Ben Lawsky, Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, has been working hand-in-hand with Sen. Fuschillo’s office to make sure his help is available to as many residents as possible.
“The Governor of this great state basically gave us out marching orders,” he said. “That order was to get out into the communities, to start talking to the banks, and start really aggressively dealing with helping people in foreclosure in every innovative way that we can think of.”
One person who desperately seeking assistance this day was Ron Neugebauer of Merrick, 53, who is facing the loss of the home he shares with his wife and five children, ages 13 to 26.
"I lost my job," he said. "They were downsizing, and I was in the crossfire. It was a very lucrative job, but I found another one, but it wasn’t for the same salary that I had before. I contacted the bank and did a modification on my home loan, but then I lost my job again.”
After being out of work for a year-and-a-half, Neugebauer was unable to keep up with his mortgage payments, prompting his bank to begin foreclosure proceedings against him.
“The amazing thing is that they don’t want to keep you in the house and have you try and pay something,” he said. “They’re more concerned with getting you out as fast as possible, even though I owe more than what the house is worth. You’d think they’d want to work with me, but that’s not the case.”
While his children have tried to pitch in to save their home, Neugebauer knows their aid can only go so far.
“They want to help, but they’re starting their own lives,” he said. “They have car payments and things, which I used to be able to help them with. But I just have to stay positive...I just visited Senator Fuschillo’s job fair and got a lot of help on my resume, and hopefully they can help me here today as well.”
Fuschillo expressed concern for Neugebauer’s plight, one faced by an ever-growing number of his constituents.
“That’s really why we’re here,” he said. “We don’t want people to lose their homes, we want to see how the state can help them.”