Last Friday, a group of us from the Center headed up to the Bronx County Supreme Court to attend a press conference led by Senator Jeffrey Klein and State Assembly Member Helene Weinstein on a topic that affects many New York homeowners facing foreclosure: settlement conferences. Settlement conferences are an important tool for foreclosure prevention because they allow homeowners to sit down with their lender to see if they can reach an agreement to keep the homeowner from losing their home. However, the 2009 New York State law that requires servicers to attend settlement conferences before they can move forward with foreclosure actions is set to expire soon.

Center staff at the press conference in support of extending settlement conferences.

At the press conference, Senator Klein announced the introduction of legislation to extend mandatory settlement conferences beyond February 2015. In New York City, nearly 30,000 homeowners are in danger of foreclosure. Keeping mandatory settlement conferences is essential to fight this tide and protect our communities from the negative impact of foreclosures.

Settlement conferences are an important part of the Center’s foreclosure prevention work because they provide an opportunity for homeowners and their attorneys to negotiate directly with lenders and obtain a home-saving solution. For example, our Network Partner Staten Island Legal Services was able to help one homeowner keep his home through effective advocacy in settlement conferences. When Mr. Granger, an elderly client, fell behind on his mortgage after he lost his job, Staten Island Legal Services was able to help him apply for a loan modification and represent him in settlement conferences. Because of this representation and the supervision provided by the settlement conference process, Mr. Granger was able to save his home through an affordable HAMP loan modification.

As Senator Klein put it, “State mandated settlement conferences provide a fair and level playing field that homeowners cannot get anywhere else.” Together with our Network Partners, Senator Klein, and Assembly Member Weinstein, we stand for the extension of this law that helps keep New Yorkers in their homes.

Note: Client names have been changed to protect confidentiality.