Friday, February 18, 2011

NY To Require Homeowners Facing Foreclosure To Be Represented by a Lawyer

New York State would be the first state to assure that all homeowners facing foreclosure be represented by a lawyer. While criminal defendents are guaranteed legal representation, a homeowner confronted with foreclosure is on his/her own. The problem affects a large number of people. In over 50% of active NY foreclosure cases the homeowner does not have a lawyer. This is "an uneven playing field," according to the chief judge of New York Jonathan Lippman. Read the article in the February 16, 2011 New York Times (page B1).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Trying to Find Accessible Rental Housing? See Our Guide to Internet Housing Sites.

The GBCHRB has just released a guide to internet sites that feature rental housing listings. To access it, go to:

Census Finds Maryland is More Diverse

According to the U. S. Census, Maryland's population grew far more diverse, while growth slowed dramatically in the Baltimore area. Baltimore lost 4.6% of its population, more than any other major city or county in the State. All of Maryland's growth was because of increasing minority populations: Hispanics doubled and the number of non-Hispanic whites declined. Non-Hispanic whites now make up less than 55% of Maryland's 5.8 million people, compared to 65% in 2000. Read the Baltimore Sun article: .

HUD Study Finds Lowest-Income Renters Hurting

In a report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that “worst case housing needs” grew by nearly 1.2 million households, or more than 20 percent, from 2007 to 2009 and by 42 percent since 2001. “Worst case housing needs” are defined as low-income households who paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both. The study, Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: A Report to Congress, is part of a series of reports to measure the scale of critical housing problems facing low-income un-assisted American renting households. The findings are from HUD's American Housing Survey conducted between May-September, 2009. The report found the increased numbers of worst case needs and the recent recession and related joblessness are strongly related. Read the February 1, 2011 HUD press release: .

New York to Use Computer Program to Identify Possibly Illegal Real Estate Activities

Under the system, devised by the mayor’s Financial Crime Task Force, a computer program will search the public property database for “digital fingerprints,” or red flags, of possibly illegal real estate activities. Such "red flags" could be multiple changes in title ownership, or flipping; the transfer of titles at below-market prices; and the sale of properties at prices beneath the minimum amount required for tax filings. The task force will give the flagged addresses to district attorney’s offices, the Police Department, and the Department of Investigation. The program is modeled after an initiative used by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to sift through data for evidence of money laundering. Property owners’ characteristics, like their age and immigration status, will also be taken into account in identifying potentially troubled properties. Officials said those who committed mortgage fraud often preyed on elderly and immigrant property owners because of their increased vulnerabilities and talk them into taking out fraudulent mortgages they do not need or transfer their properties using forged or false documents." (New York Times, February 3, 2011:A22, )

Unions to Force Chase to Modify More Mortgages by Selling Investments

Leaders of two large New York City unions said they would have their pension funds sell their stocks and bonds in JPMorgan Chase if it did not help more homeowners avoid foreclosure. The declarations were part of a campaign by New York Communities for Change to force the bank to modify more mortgages. The group’s executive director said Chase was targeted because it had many mortgages in New York but refused a majority of requests for long-term mortgage modifications. The campaign soon will include elected and union officials and religious and community leaders urging other investors to divest their Chase assets, and staging protests outside the bank’s Manhattan headquarters. (New York Times, Published: February 9, 2011, )