Discusses impact of mortgage defaults in Erie County, importance of ‘Stay In Your Home’ campaign
Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns and the “Stay In Your Home” campaign on Thursday released what he called “a staggering report” on the postmoratorium preforeclosure notices received by many homeowners across Erie County.
According to data from New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), approximately 2,930 homeowners, residing in 64 ZIP codes in Erie County, received preforeclosure default notices in the past six months. These homeowners could be anywhere from 60 to hundreds of days behind on their mortgage payments.
Kearns’ team said, “In the great recession of 2008, foreclosures disproportionately affected homeowners in the City of Buffalo. However, this recent report indicates that only three of the top 10 ZIP codes for preforeclosure notices are located within the city, with the remaining seven located in the suburbs.”
With the last remaining foreclosure moratoria at the federal and state levels ending in January, Kearns has remained vocal about the increase in foreclosure filings. His team said he has “worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic with municipalities and communities to raise awareness in an effort to prevent COVID foreclosures from becoming COVID ‘zombie’ foreclosures.”
Kearns said, “Unfortunately, the overwhelming numbers in this report confirm another foreclosure crisis of greater magnitude is on the horizon for many homeowners across Erie County. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the battle against ‘zombie’ properties and the fight to preserve homeownership, we do have the tools to help them stay in their home.”
"Zombie homes" are homes that have been neglected due to a lack of payments and foreclosure. These properties can be neglected by the owner of the property, or banks that take over. Kearns’ team said, “When these properties have been left alone for months, and in some cases years, they have a profound negative impact and inflicts blight on the community.”
Belmont Housing Resources of WNY Senior Housing Programs Director Sandy Becker said, “What Belmont counselors are seeing is that families in default have been unable to recover economically after either experiencing a loss of income, illness, having to stay home for the children, increase in expenses, and are simply unable to resume the income they once had. The data shows it is affecting all communities and all income brackets. Homeowners just can’t catch up.”
WNY Law Center Vacant and Abandoned Property Program Director Kate Lockhart said, “The ‘Stay In Your Home Campaign’ is dedicated to educating homeowners on their right to remain in their home throughout the foreclosure process, as well as the free local resources that are available to help them. In that effort, we will continue to also provide preforeclosure notices and lis pendens filings in Erie County on a quarterly basis.”
To obtain a copy of the mortgage default report, or learn more about the free services available to assist homeowners, call the “Stay in Your Home” Hotline at 716-828-8429 or visit www.StayInYourHomeWNY.com.