Homeowner Hotline Representative Brian Cruz
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods‘ Homeowner Hotline is an integral part of the Center’s work to provide high quality assistance to homeowners. The Hotline is a joint effort with the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), and is available to all New York State residents. Homeowners can reach the hotline by dialing 311 in New York City or 211 in New York State and asking for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods or by dialing 855-HOME-456.
Hotline Representatives act as a front line, connecting callers with one of the Center’s Network Partners or other HOPP partners statewide that provide housing counseling and legal services at no cost to homeowners in mortgage distress.
This week, I spoke with Patricia Vera, a former Homeowner Hotline Representative (who’s now working in grants management), and Bernie Ortiz, our newest Homeowner Hotline Representative, about their experiences. Patricia has worked at the Center for over one year while Bernie is just celebrating his one month anniversary. Both of them immediately emphasized that “you never know what you’re going to get when you pick up the phone,” and not all calls are related to housing. Regardless of who is calling, it’s all about helping that caller, whether the end result is making a referral to one of our Network Partners or searching for another helpful resource for the caller to contact. Bernie feels that a lot of his work on the Homeowner Hotline is about being able to “streamline the process” for the caller.
Both Patricia and Bernie also wanted to stress that there is no judgment of callers who reach out to the hotline for help. They both feel that, for callers in need, it is better to reach out for a solution to a problem rather than worry about unanswered questions. Additionally, all information provided by the Hotline is confidential. The Hotline is a partnership with the Attorney General and is the most secure way to find help and avoid scams.
Patricia and Bernie also agree that helping people was the most rewarding part of the job. Patricia told a story of a homeowner who called and was really upset and frustrated, but after getting in touch with a local organization that could help her, she called back to thank Patricia for the help. Homeowner calls also help inform the Center about trends and areas we need to focus on. Patricia summed up her time with the Hotline by saying, “It’s a rewarding and learning experience, it really is.”
Homeowners can reach the hotline by dialing 311 in New York City or 211 in New York State and asking for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods or direct at 855-HOME-456. Hotline representatives will connect homeowners with high-quality housing counseling or legal services near them—at no cost to the homeowner.