The Center for NYC Neighborhoods strives to promote and protect affordable homeownership in neighborhoods across New York City. In most cases, the Center tries to keep homeowners in their current homes. However, some homeowners are faced with the challenging reality that the most affordable option may not be to stay in their home, but rather to explore a new beginning.
The Housing Mobility Program (HMP) was launched in 2013 with the intention of helping homeowners explore non-retention options. HMP assists homeowners in a multitude of ways including
- Helping homeowners understand their current financial situation
- Giving clients advice on housing and financial options when home retention is not possible
- Guiding the homeowner in finding new housing
- Determining whether relocation grants and other funds are available
- Connecting homeowners with trusted realtors to work on the sale of the home.
- Connecting with financial advisors and other services.
HMP staff give homeowners the information they need to make an educated decision regarding their housing situation. Recognizing that the decision to move can be very difficult for homeowners; HMP . can help counselors and clients begin what can be a difficult conversation. The Center has also found that some homeowners may have difficulty affording their moving expenses, as they may have experienced financial trauma related to medical needs, family expenses, or unemployment. Therefore, HMP provides one-time grants of up to $500 for homeowners transitioning to new housing.
As of December 2013, HMP has 34 cases that are currently in progress. The following is an example of one of the first cases taken on by HMP:
Ms. S was referred to the Center’s Housing Mobility Program by one of our legal services partners, the City Bar Justice Center, just weeks before Ms. S. was about to lose her home to foreclosure. Ms. S is a senior who struggled to keep up her mortgage payments after losing her part-time job. Without employment income, she could not afford to pay the monthly mortgage payments for her home in the South Bronx.
In search of decent and affordable housing, Ms. S. and the City Bar Justice Center looked to the Center. We were able to connect Ms. S with an apartment that she could afford by working with our community partners. On November 1, 2013, Ms S. moved into an apartment just two miles from her previous home, with a drastically more affordable rent. The building provides Ms. S with a safe and secure senior living environment, with laundry facilities on-site, an elevator, and outdoor space.
In addition, HMP worked closely to coordinate a series of activities aimed to facilitate Ms. S’s move, including attending home visits to better assess Ms. S’s needs, providing her with a relocation grant to cover her security deposit and first month’s rent, and raising an additional $1,500 in financial assistance to support Ms. S’s transition process.
HMP is already assisting a sizable group of clients. Rudy Ulin, Housing Mobility Coordinator, feels that “the need [for this program] is there, especially when a significant number of cases in the settlement conferences are now being resolved with non retention workouts”. Ulin hopes that the program “will become a central resource for New York City homeowners exploring non-retention options.” On a larger scale, the Center expects that this program will be integrated into housing counselors and legal services provider’s approaches to non-retention issues. Even if a homeowner is years off from having to make a decision about their home, the Center believes that starting the conversation early about all available options makes the process significantly more manageable. In an ideal world, every homeowner facing financial problems would be able to stay in their home. However, the reality is that the most affordable option for a select group of homeowners is to move forward. Not only does HMP help them in the process of finding a new home, but more importantly, provides homeowners with explanations, support, and hope for their future.