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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Congresswoman Velázquez Brings Housing and Finance Experts Together to Formulate Solutions for City’s Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis

BROOKLYN, NY – Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) today brought together a panel of housing and finance experts to discuss viable short- and long-term solutions to the mortgage foreclosure crisis threatening New York City homeowners.  She will use discussions from the forum to formulate recommendations for Congressional action through the economic stimulus package. 

The rate of subprime lending in New York City surpasses the national average.  In fact, 19.8 percent of the loans issued to New Yorkers in 2006 were subprime, compared to 12.8 percent nationwide.  New York City also has the highest housing price-to-income ratio in the nation.  Seventy-five percent of homeowners in the City who earn less than $50,000 spend more than half of their income on housing.  As a result, New York’s working families face escalating mortgage costs and the looming possibility of home foreclosure. 

“New York has a strong housing market, but the large number of homeowners with subprime loans and huge loan balances has created a precarious situation,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.  “It is time to focus on viable solutions and on the eradication of predatory lending practices that led to this crisis.  We need to find ways to keep working families in their homes while protecting investments in flourishing neighborhoods across the City.”

The Congresswoman was joined at today’s event by representatives from community-based organizations, local finance experts and policy makers. The panel discussed strategies to keep families in their homes, including working with lenders to renegotiate loan terms to prevent foreclosures, empowering homeowners to seek finance counseling, and minimizing the impact that the current crisis has on neighborhoods.  In addition, the roundtable broached long-term solutions to address the root of the home-mortgage default problem while ensuring affordable access to credit for home buyers. 

“Congress is focused on an economic stimulus package that is timely, targeted, and temporary.  It would be incomplete without factoring resources for those who are on the brink of losing their homes,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.  “I’m taking the ideas gathered at today’s roundtable back to Washington, where I will continue to work to ensure that the needs of New York homeowners are a top priority.”

Congresswoman Velázquez is New York City’s senior Member on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.