Home Matters: Spring 2021 Newsletter


From the Desk of the Executive Director


For 39 years, we at Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn CDC, Inc. (NHS Brooklyn) have helped residents learn about purchasing a first home, avoiding foreclosure and eviction, repairing their homes, landlord and tenant responsibilities, neighborhood revitalization, and so much more. Now, a year into the worst pandemic in a century, our work is more critical than ever. Although the economy is rebounding, many in the communities we serve have lost their jobs and are still unemployed; are unable to pay their mortgage, rent, or other bills; are the victims of scams; or are on the verge of losing their properties—their family’s primary path to intergenerational wealth. We are responding to this growing crisis by joining other Brooklyn housing nonprofits to engage distressed homeowners in a new program set up by New York State Attorney General, Letitia James: the Anti-Displacement Help Desk. The program is designed to connect legal assistance and HUD-certified housing agencies like ours with distressed, harassed, and victimized homeowners, so that we can help keep them from losing their homes and savings to foreclosure, scams, or predatory means. Watch for the Brooklyn launch of this critical initiative on Wednesday, May 19. Tenants and small landlords have also continued to need counseling, education, and referrals to understand the options, rights, and resources available to them, even as eviction and mortgage moratoria have been extended. At the same time, mortgage rates have never been lower, and residents are coming to us in droves seeking ways to purchase a first home in or out of the city. In such a frantic market, these novice home buyers are desperate to understand the process, learn ways to strengthen their financial position, and identify resources for which they would be eligible. All need our help. In response to this crushing demand, we continue to offer one-on-one counseling, but we now also offer webinars, which have attracted hundreds of homeowners, home buyers, tenants, landlords, and future landlords. So far this year, we have offered 45 webinars to over 2,000 residents on topics such as foreclosure avoidance, financial education, how to apply for affordable housing lotteries, mortgage refinance and purchasing a first home. Many of these online events were made possible thanks to partnerships with government agencies, elected officials, and businesses, including banks, real estate agencies, law offices, and others. These collaborators understand the value we bring to residents, and seek to protect their investment in us, knowing that we will be there as community needs evolve. With their ongoing support—and yours!—NHS Brooklyn will continue to do the work that needs to be done to help Brooklyn families not only to survive but thrive. Please read on for highlights of some of our recent efforts.

Wishing you all safety, health, and wellness,

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work


Serghio Adams, NHS Brooklyn Board President

An 80-years-young veteran on a fixed income, Mr. T had trouble maintaining his Clinton Hill home on a limited income. Kind-hearted, he allowed his tenants to pay less than the market rate, to the point that Mr. T was unable to cover his bills.


When he defaulted on his property taxes and was in danger of losing his home, Mr. T contacted NHS Brooklyn. Housing Counselor Luz Torres, in collaboration with other nonprofits, including Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project, got him into the Equitable Reverse Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) Program. Offered by the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, the program allowed Mr. T to secure a loan of $25,000 to cover his back taxes. Ms. Torres also helped Mr. T to drastically cut his property bill by signing him up for the Enhanced STAR and Veterans exemptions.


By connecting with NHS Brooklyn, Mr. T was also able to get the pension he deserved from the Veterans Administration, giving his finances some breathing room.


So you see, it doesn’t always take a village. Sometimes, having a team like NHS Brooklyn is all you need!



NHS Brooklyn Home Buyer Education Program:

Hot as the Market!


Tenant Support During COVID-19

Even though the pandemic has changed a great many lives, buyers are still in the market to purchase a new home. For those with strong finances and job security, 2021 could be a smart time to purchase a home and begin building a family’s wealth. After all, interest rates on mortgages are at an all-time low. Nevertheless, home buyers need to make responsible, informed decisions to avoid costly mistakes, and we at NHS Brooklyn remain steadfast in providing them the information and resources they need through our multi-phase Homeownership Program.


Bi-monthly orientations. Each month, we offer two free, 90-minute First-Time Home Buyer webinars, attracting 100 to 150 attendees each. During these online events, we provide an overview of the home-buying process, our homeownership education program, grants, and the insights of industry representatives, such as mortgage lenders, real estate agents, real estate attorneys, and home inspectors. Our next webinars will be on Tuesday, May 11, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm, and Tuesday, May 25, from 12pm to 1:30pm.


Financial education. We offer monthly Financial Coaching and Credit Improvement Workshops, which we encourage all of our clients to attend, especially home-buyers, who benefit from it before receiving one-on-one counseling and taking our 10-hour online home-buying course. These webinars consistently attract 40-60 attendees. Our next webinar will be on Thursday, May 27, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. One-on-one financial counseling is also available.


Renter's insurance education. As part of financial education, tenants are encouraged to take one of our monthly Renter’s Insurance webinars, to help them understand how to avoid an unexpected financial setback due to no fault of their own. Register for the next free webinar on Tuesday, May 11 at 3pm here.


One-on-one counseling. All home-buyers passing through our program receive one-on-one homeownership counseling. During this session, a housing counselor uses an Intake Form, financial documents the client has submitted, and the client’s credit history (obtained through a soft pull, with no impact on the client’s credit score) to discuss the market, the types of mortgages and assistance available, and the client’s mortgage readiness.


Online education. Once deemed mortgage-ready by the counselor, the client takes our 10-hour, online Homeownership Class. Upon completion, we issue a Certificate of Completion, which the client takes to one or more of our partner banks for mortgage pre-qualification and to learn of any special mortgage products or other incentives lenders being offered to home buyers who have completed our program. Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, we have had a record number of course graduates.


Landlord education. Home buyers interested in purchasing a multi-family building in which they also plan to live are invited to take our special HUD-certified course. Offered twice a month, this two-hour course meets the requirement of most banks and lenders for this type of education. For more info and to enroll, click here.


Clients in contract or who have a closing date should complete and submit this form for fast-track assistance.



First-Time Home Seller Education


Home Insurance: Answers to COVID-19's Effects

High demand, low inventory, and low mortgage rates have made this a seller’s market, and many homeowners are considering selling their home. Some are downsizing; others are ready to rent instead of own; and still others are tasked with selling the home of a family member. In many instances, these sellers have never sold a home before.


Recognizing the need to educate these first-time home sellers, NHS Brooklyn assembled a team of real estate professionals and offered a Home-Buyer Webinar. Topics included getting your home ready to sell, hiring a real estate agent, fees to expect, pricing the home for sale, tax implications, fair housing laws, and much more.


The webinar was a huge success and another like it will be offered soon. To receive an alert when it’s scheduled, please subscribe to our website.


BEWARE OF SCAMS. If you feel you must sell your home because you are in foreclosure or are afraid you soon will be, or if you would like to stay in your home but are having trouble managing it, DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS before contacting us at 718-469-4679 and speaking with a housing counselor. We also encourage you to register for our upcoming webinar Mortgage Update: Foreclosure, Forbearance & the Mortgage Moratorium, on Tuesday, May 25 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. Click here to register.



New! Property Management Program

for Owners of 1- to 4-Unit Rental Properties


We’re so excited to announce our new Property Management Program, designed to help small property owners of 1- to 4-unit buildings. Our aim is to assist those landlords who are increasingly stressed during these tough times, are struggling to maintain their financial foothold due to COVID-19, or who just don't have the time or interest to care for their property and managing property-related income and expenses.

The program is designed to help small property owners stabilize their finances, manage upkeep of their property effectively and efficiently, increase the value of their property, retain the property as a family asset, and overcome economic hardships due to COVID-19.

Professional and technical program services include collecting rent and fielding calls from tenants; counseling on how to reduce operating expenses, such as property insurance, equipment, and utility bills; securing estimates from licensed, insured contractors and project management of their work once hired; counseling to refinance the property; secure a reverse mortgage or avoid foreclosure or the threat of foreclosure; tenant selection; and education to develop the owners' property management skills.

Owners do not have to live in the building to use this service.

If you're the owner of a 1- to 4-unit rental property and are interested in learning more about our Property Management Program, please register for one of the following online sessions to learn more and ask questions:

  • Wednesday, May 12 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. Register here

  • Wednesday, May 19 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. Register here.

You may also contact Byron Todman at 718-469-4679 or propertymanagementdept@nhsbrooklyn.org

​​

Are you a Contractor or Service Provider?

If you are a contractor or service provider who would like to receive job referrals and you offer any of the following, please complete this form, or call Byron Todman, Program Manager, at 718-469-4679:

  • General Contracting

  • Home Renovation

  • HVAC

  • Landscaping

  • Roofing

  • Masonry

  • Engineering

  • Weatherization

  • Waterproofing

  • Pest Treatment

  • Hazardous Materials Removal

  • Home Security


For Tenants: Eviction Moratorium Update and More


The Eviction Moratorium in New York has been extended to August 31, 2021; however, please note:


The eviction moratorium doesn’t absolve tenants' obligation to pay rent. Landlords are still able to seek money judgments in court. If you are able to pay your rent, pay it to avoid problems later.


If you are behind on your rent; have questions about your lease; need assistance with NYC Housing Connect a rent freeze, or other tenant matter, please use this form to provide us with the details and a counselor will contact you. You may also call us at 718-469-4679 from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. We are not accepting walk-in clients at this time.


Important Webinars this Month


How to Apply for Housing Lotteries. Join us at our next webinar on Tuesday, May 18 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm for a presentation in English and Urdu. Register here.


Tenants’ Rights during COVID-19. Join us on Thursday, May 20, from 6:00 to 7:30pm to understand your rights during COVID-19. Anyone threatened with eviction or displacement is encouraged to attend. Register here.



Access to Home for Heroes:

Our New Program for Disabled Veterans


NHS Brooklyn Joins Elected Officials in PPE Giveaway

NHS Brooklyn was awarded $200,000 to administer the 2020 Access to Home for Heroes Program. We’ll use these funds to help at least twenty disabled veterans to complete essential home-accessibility projects that will allow them to continue living independently. Home modifications offered will include installation of wheelchair ramps, lifts, and roll-in showers as well as doorway widening to accommodate the use of wheelchairs. To complete this work, on June 1, 2021, we’ll launch a Home Help for Heroes (HHH) Program that will target disabled veterans in Brooklyn communities of color whose total household income does not exceed 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for New York City’s Metropolitan Statistical Area. Disabled veterans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be given special consideration. Applications will be processed at a first-come-first-served basis. For more information, contact Angella Cummings, Director of Operations, at acummings@nhsbrooklyn.org or 718-469-4679.



Hurricane & Heat Season Begin June 1.

Be ready!


With the fading of spring flowers and the start of summer fun come heat and hurricane season in New York City, which begins June 1 and lasts through November 1. As Brooklyn residents, we need to be prepared for these two perils, which are taking place simultaneously with the COVID-19 pandemic.


We strongly encourage you to participate in our webinar Heatwaves, Health & Hurricanes: Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Life & Property on Thursday, May 13, at 6pm to learn how to stay cool this summer, be ready for severe weather, and maybe even win a free Go-Bag from the NYC Department of Emergency Management!


Register here



















Attention, homeowners and small landlords!


If you own a property within a mile of the coast, please join us on Wednesday, May 12, at 6:00pm to learn about resources like the Free Backflow Valve Program to protect your property from damaging flood waters.


Other free resources for which you may be eligible will also be discussed.


Register here.