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Press Release
New York Launches PSA Campaign to Stem Foreclosures
PSA Ad on Times Square Super Screen Encourages Homeowners to Seek Help if Past Due with Mortgage Payments or Threatened with Foreclosure
Superintendent Richard H. Neiman Highlights Importance of Getting Help Quickly to Limit Effect of Unnecessary Foreclosures on Families and Neighborhoods

December 2, 2008

New York, N.Y.: Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks, announced today the launch of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign targeted to consumers who are behind on their mortgage payments or threatened with foreclosure. The campaign is designed to encourage homeowners to seek help from their lenders, loan servicers and not-for-profit housing counselors to avoid unnecessary foreclosures. The PSA will drive borrowers to the Banking Department Web site where they will find a list of helpful resources, including housing counselors and information on their rights under the law.

“The Governor and the Banking Department are committed to attacking the mortgage crisis and providing support to New Yorkers who are at risk of losing their homes,” said Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks. “This PSA campaign is the latest in a series of initiatives we have undertaken to encourage homeowners to take action quickly to avoid losing their homes.  The increasing number of foreclosures throughout the nation is having a devastating impact on families and communities, which can be stemmed by more aggressive loan modification programs.”

The ten-second PSA video will air three times per hour on the CBS Super Screen in New York City from Dec 2, 2008 through Jan. 1, 2009, concluding after the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration.  An estimated 1.5 million New Yorkers, commuters and visitors pass through this area during the busy holiday season. 

Coinciding with the Super Screen promotion, the video with an audio track will be distributed to television and radio media outlets throughout New York State that will be requested to air the PSA to maximize the reach of this important message. The Federal Communications Commission requires that radio and television stations donate a certain amount of airtime to serve the public and the community.    The PSA will also be available on the Banking Department Web site at www.banking.state.ny.us.

Costs incurred by the Banking Department in the production of the PSA ad will be paid for entirely by a special fund earmarked for PSAs.  The fund was created from settlement fines resulting from an enforcement action against a mortgage broker.

Current Foreclosure Statistics
For the third quarter of 2008, New York State ranked 37th among all states in total foreclosure filings, which is an improvement from third quarter 2007 when the state ranked 29th in total filings.  While New York State as a whole compared favorably to the nation in the third quarter of 2008, with foreclosure filings increasing 19 percent over the third quarter of 2007, while the nation as a whole increased 71 percent during the same time period, there are still many areas of the state that are disproportionately impacted and require continuing attention. 

New York State Initiatives
Under Governor David A. Paterson leadership, New York has taken an active and coordinated response that has already served as a national model.  The Governor’s HALT Task Force to Halt Abusive Lending Transactions unites the work of all state agencies related to the mortgage market.  A copy of the most recent report from the HALT Task Force is available on the Banking Department Web site at http://www.banking.state.ny.us/pr080511.pdf.

The following categories reflect the breadth of the state’s response to the mortgage crisis.

  • Counseling and Legal Services. The Banking Department awarded $2 million in grant funding for non-profit counseling agencies and legal services. The funds were recouped from prior settlements for predatory practices. The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) is administering a $25 million grant program to provide similar counseling.
  • Outreach and Loan Modifications. The HALT agencies have reached out to affected communities through two comprehensive campaigns: the HALT Summits and Operation Protect Your Home (OPYH). HALT Summits were day-long events that brought together community groups, industry, government, and academia to identify regional problems and develop solutions.  OPYH events give homeowners the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with their lender or servicer to explore the possibility of a loan modification or other workout agreement. Eight forums have taken place across the state so far.
  • Refinancing and Mortgage Programs. The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) has developed new affordable mortgage products. The introduction of the forty-year fixed rate mortgage was a milestone, and provides first-time homebuyers with the flexibility of a lower monthly payment and the security of a fixed monthly payment. SONYMA also offers refinancing opportunities, through the Keep the Dream program.
  • Legislation. New York has been particularly innovative in the area of legislation, signing into law a bill that has the most comprehensive mortgage reform in the nation, and includes measures to help existing borrowers and prevent unnecessary foreclosures as well as to help prevent similar crises in the future.
  • Neighborhood Stabilization. The Affordable Housing Corporation has a $2 million pilot grant program for the Housing Partnership Development Corp. to purchase and renovate foreclosed housing units in New York City to return foreclosed properties to productive use and prevent the destabilization of communities.
  • Enforcement. The Banking Department has created a dedicated Mortgage Fraud Unit, which is actively working with law enforcement to uncover abusive lending practices and fraud. Further, New York was one of the first states to launch the new National Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) in January of 2008, designed to curb mortgage fraud through extensive security measures and education requirements for loan originators throughout New York.

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.

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