Erie County, New York (WKBW) — On Thursday, Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns and local housing leaders held a press conference to urge homeowners and tenants affected by the foreclosure to stay in their homes.
“If you’re in arrears on your loan, please stay home,” Kearns emphasized.
He suggested calling the foreclosure hotline at 716-828-8429 for free legal advice.
Kearns revealed data showing 2,930 properties in Erie County received pre-foreclosure notices of default in the past six months. This does not include if the homeowner is slightly late or has a grace contract.
Sandy Becker, senior housing program director at WNY’s Belmont Housing Resources, said:
Becker said scammers would try to get money from people by claiming to help them. She urges you not to fall for it and seek help from local, free legal services.
“That’s a number I vouch for,” Kearns said. “This is the first indication of what is to come regarding the anticipated foreclosure crisis in Erie County.”
These foreclosures are the impact of COVID-19. Kearns says that at the height of the Great Recession in 2008, he had a 3.8% statewide mortgage default rate, the percentage of New Yorkers who missed their mortgage payments. That percentage he increased to 11.8% in 2020. Last April he dropped to 5.3%, but is believed to have increased since then.
The county separated properties by zip code. Of the top 10 codes for pre-foreclosure notices, he has only 3 in the City of Buffalo.
Kate Lockhart, Director of Vacant and Abandoned Properties at WNY Law, said it’s important to maintain ownership of a home so it doesn’t become abandoned or become a “zombie property.”
“Our goal is to maintain home ownership and keep people home,” Lockhart said. “It’s really great not only for that family, but also for the community.”