The Mutual Housing Association of NYC (MHANY) is a non-profit organization founded in 1986 with a focus on housing counseling and innovative affordable housing development initiatives for low- and moderate-income residents of New York. MHANY is also one of our Network Partners, providing housing counseling for homeowners in mortgage distress or foreclosure. Earlier this summer, I spoke with Cecilia Joza, the Housing Counseling Program Director at MHANY about their work.
MHANY counsels first-time homebuyers to make sure that they are prepared for the challenges of homeownership and are considering affordable homeownership options. MHANY also counsels homeowners in mortgage distress. When a housing counselor is working with a homeowner at risk of foreclosure, they will discuss all options, help decide the best course of action, and, where possible, assist the homeowner with obtaining a workout that will allow them to stay in their home. Cecilia explained that MHANY’s counselors begin by getting an idea of the overall financial picture of the household, which helps them understand how the mortgage became unaffordable and how the homeowner can begin to recover.
A large portion of a housing counselor’s work involves assembling and submitting comprehensive loan modification packages to banks or mortgage servicers on behalf of clients. When speaking about MHANY’s approach to applying for mortgage modifications, Cecilia stressed, “We’re very persistent. We will try for as long as it takes. We believe in trying one more time, one more time. These are actual human beings that are losing their homes. If they lose their home they lose all their life, their savings, they lose everything. So we really try and work together with the homeowners.”
Even though homeowners and housing counselors can work incredibly hard to save a home, sometimes staying in the home is not the best option for the homeowner. “In trying to help the homeowners, we also talk about the foreclosure alternatives,” said Cecilia. If a homeowner can’t afford the home, MHANY will work with them to determine the best option for finding an alternative affordable housing option.
Cecilia also wanted to make sure homeowners know that “you’re not there by yourself,” and the best option homeowners have for finding stability is to work with a non-profit organization to get free housing counseling or legal services.
Cecilia has been working with MHANY for 12 years and it is easy to see her passion for the work she does to help homeowners. “We try harder and harder every day, that’s our motto and that’s what MHANY is all about. Caring for people and trying to do the best for the people,” she said.
Homeowners can reach a housing counseling or legal services professional by calling 311 and asking for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods or by calling our Homeowner Hotline directly at 855-HOME-456.