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From the desk of NY State Senator Jack Martins: April 10, 2012

Help For Homeowners

It started out simple enough. Since taking office I’ve had a small but steady stream of constituents who seek help with various mortgage and foreclosure problems. I regularly connect them to appropriate state agencies and having heard back about a number of successful resolutions, I decided to host a local seminar for anyone experiencing similar issues. I invited the New York Attorney General’s (AG’s) Office, the state’s Department of Financial Services, and even some of the larger lenders.

I thought booking a large meeting room at the Elmont Library was overkill as we had only 25 constituents RSVP, but when I arrived that Saturday morning my jaw dropped. More than 420 people were waiting. Entire families were there, lined up against the walls, waiting in the hall, some even sitting on the floor between rows of chairs. My stomach sank as I looked into what I could see were desperate faces. Not knowing where to start with such a large crowd, we broke off at three tables: the AG’s office at one, financial services at another, and my staff at yet another. I canceled all my appointments that morning as I became absorbed in what was a sobering experience.

Let me start by confirming that with few exceptions, most were employed, hardworking couples, with fair to good credit, who were now inexplicably facing a mortgage crisis, or worse, foreclosure. As our offices interviewed, a recurring pattern of unfair lending practices became evident. Truthfully, it’s hard to believe how some lenders scam people with the same, well-worn techniques, time and again. The AG’s office left that day with 300 legitimate cases.          

For example, I met a well-employed Latino couple that spent years saving for a down payment and whose credit had been near perfect. They were now facing foreclosure because of astronomical mortgage payments. I asked how this happened given their fairly decent circumstances. It turns out their lender continuously promised to have a translator available to help with contracts but one never materialized. At their closing, the lender actually had the couple’s grade-school children translate for them!  Naturally, their contract was a sham and their mortgage rate eventually ballooned. Not only were they losing their home, but their credit rating was being destroyed. Like many immigrants, they spoke English but hardly understood contract legalese. The fact is the lender didn’t want anything translated and sadly, this happens all too often.  

We also heard numerous complaints from those who had applied for loan modifications. They came with all their paperwork in order and even produced signed, certified mail documentation as evidence it had been received. Yet repeatedly, these families waited for months on end without any response whatsoever. Written correspondence and phone calls were routinely ignored. One senior citizen even allowed me to listen to a disturbing, taped conversation with her lender in which her agent was downright disrespectful and dismissive.

I could go on but it wouldn’t be helpful. Instead, I want those facing these dire straits to know you don’t have to go it alone. Our state’s Attorney General’s office and our Department of Financial Services have attorneys who can, where appropriate, interface with lenders and facilitate fair resolutions. But you must take the first step so I encourage you to visit “Help for Homeowners” at www.dfs. ny.gov/consumer/mortg.htm and get informed. Then please remember that patience, persistence and preparation are key to sorting through these paper trails and keeping your piece of the American dream.

Instability in our housing market including foreclosures in our own communities actually affects us all. The sooner we are able to restructure our home loans to provide stable and predictable payments, the sooner we can take a huge step to climb out of this economic downturn. 

News

Night On The Town has been a fixture in Mineola, honoring community pillars and charities with a evening of great food and fun. This year, event reps have a new goal in mind for the May 7 event at Jericho Terrace: 1,000 attendees and $100,000 raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the night’s yearly beneficiary. The event raised $72,500 last year.

 

“If you want to buy a ticket or write a check, you don’t make it out to no one else other than the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” said event coordinator and Piccola Bussola owner Tony Lubrano. “All of the money goes straight to them.”

After two terms on the Mineola School Board and six years of service to the district, trustee William Hornberger will not seek re-election in May, he confirmed last week. 

“After six years of volunteering, I believe the district is on solid ground financially and moving in the right direction educationally,” he said. “I think it’s time for other members of the community to bring their ideas and vision to the board of education. It’s time to move onto the next chapter.”

 

Hornberger was first elected to the board in 2008 and re-elected in 2011, serving as board president and vice president in that span. The Williston Park resident oversaw the reconfiguration of the district which included the closing of the Cross Street and Willis

Avenue schools, one of the more challenging times in the district’s history. Those two schools have since been leased out to Solomon Schechter Day School and Harbor Child Care, respectively.


Sports

Mineola FC Clips Red Wings

Brian Heckelman and Peter Murphy’s defending held the Smithtown Red Wings in check the entire game as the BU10 Mineola FC team advanced to the Long Island Cup quarterfinal round with a 2-0 victory on Saturday, April 12. Liam Russelman scored first for

Mineola, taking a ball from the left sideline and cutting in along the top of the Smithtown box, where he launched a shot into the left corner of the RedWings goal.

 

The 1-0 lead lasted for most of the game, until Liam Going sidestepped three Red Wings defenders, drove to the net and slid a hard shot into the back of the net. Mineola improved to 4-0 in all competitions with the win.

Jimmy Regan was a perfect man in that he put others before himself and made sacrifices—both for his country and in ultimately his life as an Army Ranger. Chaminade High School lacrosse star Jack Brennan, who grew up knowing Regan and who now plays for his alma mater, would be the first to admit that he is not a perfect man, but did put on a perfect performance this past Saturday night on the lacrosse field, scoring a hat trick in a 10-5 win against the Manhasset Indians and giving the Flyers the overall edge 4-3 in the annual charity game held in Regan’s name.

 

“I didn’t really do much, it was just a lot of feeds on the crease and I just finished and I got lucky,” Brennan said of his on-field performance, especially considering the significant amount of playing time as a junior on the team.


Calendar

Cabaret Night - April 25

Buffet Dinner - April 25

Baseball Fundraiser - April 29 


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com