New York’s “The Red Hot Rubble of East New York” (January 26-February 8) is an extremely disturbing and unfortunately all too common story in New York City. Predatory real estate investors are targeting homeowners facing foreclosure, offering cash to buy them out and acquire their homes on the cheap, only to flip the houses or rent them for a profit. These vultures are contributing to New York City’s affordable housing crisis, which is as much about preserving lower- and middle-income housing opportunities — in neighborhoods like East New York — as it is about building new, subsidized apartments.

It is critical that we work to equip homeowners with the tools they need to stay in their homes and communities, and catch them before they fall into foreclosure. New York right now has a huge opportunity to help thousands of vulnerable homeowners: nearly $1 billion in settlement funds from banks as a result of mortgages abuses in the state. Since January 2012, there have been more than 40,000 new foreclosure filings in New York City alone, and these funds could be transformative in supporting programs that will help families keep their homes, continue to invest in their communities, and bolster our affordable housing stock.