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Press Release
New York State Banking Department Announces Foreclosure Relief Forum for Long Island Homeowners
New York State Senators and Superintendent of Banks Richard H. Neiman
 Host Operation Protect Your Home Forum in Suffolk County, Long Island

September 26, 2008

New York, NY: The New York State Banking Department joins the members of the New York State Senate for the eighth Operation Protect Your Home foreclosure prevention forum, which will be held in Suffolk County, Long Island on Saturday, September 27, 2008.

This is the eighth in a series of Operation Protect Your Home forums held throughout the state to address the needs of homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure.  This forum provides the opportunity for Long Island homeowners at risk of foreclosure and mortgage servicers to come together to find sustainable solutions to their mortgage issues. Mortgage lenders and non-profit housing counselors will work with individual homeowners to identify potential ways of preventing unnecessary foreclosures. The forum is free and open to the public on Saturday, September 27, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Brookhaven Campus of Dowling College in Shirley, New York.

As of the second quarter of 2008 there were 1,964 properties in Suffolk County in the foreclosure process, according to data reported by RealtyTrac.  This represents 12% percent of all foreclosure activity in New York State.

The forum is co-sponsored by The New York State Banking Department, NeighborWorks® America, Senator Caesar Trunzo, Senator Owen H. Johnson, Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Senator John Flanagan, Senator Carl L. Marcellino, Senator Charles J. Fuschillo and Senator Dean G. Skelos.

New York State Superintendent of Banks, Richard H. Neiman said, ”A crisis as large as this requires coordinated efforts at the federal, state and local levels, through combined resources from the public, private and nonprofit sectors.  Operation Protect Your Home is a prime example of how these joint efforts can keep people in their homes and prevent unnecessary foreclosures.”

"Many Long Island residents who are faced with high property taxes, high gas prices and increased energy and health care costs are finding it increasingly difficult to make their home mortgage payments each month. Operation Protect Your Home will provide local homeowners with the information and counseling they need to overcome these challenges so they can afford to stay in their homes.  The Senate Majority is pleased to team up with the New York State Banking Department for this important forum," said Senate Majority Dean G. Skelos.

Senator Caesar Trunzo said, “High property taxes and the uncertainty surrounding the economy have caused homeowners to wonder if the doors to their homes will be closed on them.  This seminar will allow individuals to work with lenders and find solutions to keep their doors open.”

“Many people are hurting financially and are at risk of losing their homes,” said Senator Owen H. Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  “That’s why I’m pleased to join my Senate colleagues in partnering with the State Banking Department in sponsoring Operation Protect Your Home, here in Suffolk County.  By bringing local homeowners who are in financial trouble together with their lenders, face-to-face, our hope is that we can help these families avoid the pain of foreclosure so that they can stay in their homes.”

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said, “Throughout the country, an increasing number of individuals and families are faced with losing their homes as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.  These people were sold a bill of goods that they could not afford and had their dream of owning a home turn into a nightmare.  In addition to new consumer protection laws enacted this year and the awarding of state grants to help protect homeowners suffering through this crisis, Operation Protect Your Home offers people an opportunity to save their home by providing a forum through which they can meet  face-to-face with their  lender  to  seek  new terms for their mortgage.   It is my hope that many of the people who have taken advantage of this program will leave here with their  dream of home ownership renewed.”

“While the federal government debates plans to revitalize the economy, Long Island homeowners need to get personal help now.  A person’s house is more than just bricks and mortar, it is the heart of a family.  The state has an obligation to help individuals stay in their homes and this event is designed to help our homeowners find the help they need and see that there is a solution.  And in these tough times, that is extremely important," stated Senator John Flanagan.

Senator Carl L. Marcellino said, “I applaud the Banking Department for assisting us in organizing this important event that will educate homeowners on one of the most vital issues facing us today. Helping homeowners access the tools they need to keep their homes is one of the most critical things that we can do.”

“The mortgage foreclosure crisis in New York State has hit Long Island especially hard,” said Senator Charles J. Fuschillo. “This forum is designed to help Long Island families who are at risk of losing their homes to find solutions to prevent foreclosure now and in the future.”

During the forum, mortgage lenders, counselors and attorneys will work with individual borrowers on identifying potential ways to prevent unnecessary foreclosures. Various agencies present at the forum will provide information about government programs. Several hundred people have already RSVP’d to attend this forum in Suffolk County.

Participating lenders sending representatives to meet with homeowners are Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Countrywide, HSBC, Home Loan Servicing (including First Franklin and NationPoint), Ocwen, OptionOne (now American Home Mortgage Servicing), Select Portfolio, Washington Mutual, Wilshire, Wells Fargo (including America’s Servicing Company) and IndyMac.

Participating housing counselors include Community Development Corporation of Long Island, Long Island Housing Partnership, Long Island Housing Services, La Fuerza Unida, American Debt Resources, Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk County, Inc, Nassau County Office of Housing and Homeownership Center, GoodHomeHelp, Inc., and Town of East Hampton Office of Housing and Community Development.

Since Operation Protect Your Home launched in February 2008, approximately 36,000 letters have been sent to homeowners who are 30-60 days in default inviting them to take part in the program. The letter is signed by their Senators and Richard H. Neiman, Banking Superintendent.

The New York State Banking Department is the regulator for all state-chartered banking institutions, virtually all of the United States offices of international banking institutions, all of the State’s mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, check cashers, money transmitters and budget planners. The aggregate assets of the depository institutions supervised by the Banking Department are more than $2.2 trillion.

In addition to regulating banking institutions, the Banking Department is active in informing and educating all New Yorkers on banking matters. To contact the Banking Department, please call 1-877-BANK-NYS or visit our Web site at www.banking.state.ny.us.