NHS Brooklyn | Newsletter | Spring 2022
Thinking About Buying a New Home?
If you’re a first-time home buyer, you know that the real estate market during the pandemic has been hot hot hot, with intense competition for available properties. It’s also filled with sharks! To help you avoid frustration and costly mistakes with what may be the single largest financial transaction of your life, NHS Brooklyn provides homeownership education designed to outline the process of buying a home, introduce you to the roles of who is involved in a real estate deal, and alert you to down-payment and closing cost assistance for which you may be eligible.
Monthly Webinars Each month, we offer two free webinars that are an orientation to our program as well as available down-payment and closing cost assistance. You’ll also hear from professionals in the real estate, real estate law, mortgage banking, and home inspection fields and be able to ask them questions.
Financial Education We also offer Financial Coaching and Credit Improvement: free monthly webinars taught by our bank partners to help you get started setting a budget, tracking income and expenses, saving, improving your credit score.
Renter's Insurance Education Fire, flooding, and other housing disasters can set back an uninsured renter for years. Find out what renter's insurance covers, what it doesn't, and how much it costs in a free monthly webinar. If you're considering a home within a mile of the water, we also encourage you to take our free flood insurance webinar.
Landlord Training For anyone interested in purchasing a NYC multi-family property, we offer Landlord Training twice a month. This course, which is certified by HUD, comes with a Certificate of Completion: the proof that many banks require before granting a loan to buy a multi-family property. Accept no substitutes!
How to Learn More. If you’d like more information on how to get started on the homeowner journey, join us at one of our next free online orientations. Find the schedule for upcoming webinars that run from 12:00pm to 1:30pm and from 6:00pm to 7:30pm here.
Executive Director Tonya Ores Honored
In March, against the twinkling backdrop of New York City’s skyline, our Executive Director, Tonya Ores, was honored as Real Estate Person of the Year by the Institute of Real Estate Management, a nonprofit association serving the property management industry. Ores was chosen for her work launching our new Affordable Property Management Program as well as for her tireless efforts and leadership in providing housing services and advocating for Brooklyn property owners, home buyers, and tenants.
A native Brooklynite raised in Williamsburg with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Tonya has worked for NHS offices since 1990, having held the titles of Senior Loan Officer, Director of Homeowner Education, Program Director, and Executive Director. She serves on the Advisory Board of Carver Community Development Corporation and Kings County Hospital. Tonya is also a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member, and a Board Member and youth mentor at her church.
Attention, Disabled, Injured & Elderly Veterans!
If you're a Brooklyn veteran who is disabled or who has mobility challenges due to age, an accident, or a serious illness, the Home Help for Heroes Grant can help you continue to live in your home or apartment independently. You may be a homeowner, renter, or resident in a home you don’t own or rent, such as a family property.
Grant funds may be used for modifications such as a ramp, lift, a roll-in shower, door widening, handrails, or other alteration.
The applicant's household income must be at or below 120% of AMI. (Go here for a chart showing AMI income limits by household size. Scroll to the right to see 120% AMI limits.) Other conditions apply; however, the veteran's disability does not have to be combat-related and may be due to age or infirmity.
If you are eligible but don’t own the property where you live, you must have the permission of the property owner before modifications can be made.
If you believe you may be eligible, don’t let this program slip by! Download an application here or call us to have it mailed.
Not eligible but know someone who may be? Please refer them!
For more info about the Home Help for Heroes Grant, contact Angella Cummings, Director of Operations, at 718-469-4679 or email@example.com
PPE Distribution to Residents & Businesses
NHS Brooklyn has partnered with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to raise the awareness of residents in East Flatbush and beyond about the importance of protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and those around us from COVID-19.
As part of this effort, we’ve been sharing information each week with our website subscribers and on social media, and we’ve also distributed free in-home tests, masks, and hand sanitizer to nonprofits, houses of worship, and neighbors.
One recent weekday, we distributed 500 at-home tests and 1,000 masks in just two hours to businesses on Church and Nostrand Avenues and to residents coming and going at the Church Avenue subway station. The team effort included staff members Tyrone McDonald, Government and Community Relations Manager, and Laura McKenna, Marketing Manager, as well as Board Members Marjorie Faison and Zenobia McNally.
Stay Safe from COVID-19!
Unfortunately, the number of COVID-19 cases in NYC is increasing and the risk has moved from low to medium.
Get Vaccinated & Boosted!
> Free (for now) to New Yorkers age 5 & up. No appointment, insurance requirement, or immigration questions
> Find a location: www.nyc.gov/vaccinefinder
> Free transportation to and from a vaccine appointment is available to NYC residents age 65 and older or who are disabled. Call 877-829-4692 to arrange this service. Persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
> Get vaccinated at home, if you are age 12 or older. For an appointment, call 877-829-4692
Feel sick? Get tested (even if you’re vaccinated!)
> Use an at-home test or find a test site at www.nyc.gov/covidtest (Call first & ask about fees. NYC government-run sites are free.)
> Tested positive? Call 212-COVID-19, then press 9 to speak to doctor/nurse and have free medication delivered
> Order free at-home tests www.covidtest.gov
Questions? Call 212-COVID-19
Housing Assistance for Residents Impacted by COVID-19
Since New York City went on lockdown for COVID-19 in March 2020, NHS Brooklyn has been offering the community information and updates on resources and how to protect ourselves via weekly eblasts as well as over 300 webinars.
Among the updates we shared was the fact that New York State put a pause (moratorium) on evictions and on foreclosures for residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These moratoria ended January 15, 2022. Landlords and lenders may now proceed with evictions and foreclosures for nonpayment of rent and mortgage arrears. NHS Brooklyn counseled hundreds of homeowners while the moratoria were in effect and since they ended. (If you need this assistance now, please complete and submit a Request for Service and a counselor will contact you.)
After the moratoria ended, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the NYS legislature, chose to focus on funding legal assistance for evictions and financial assistance to tenants and homeowners by way of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LARP), Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), Emergency Housing Voucher Program (EHV), and other initiatives. If you need assistance applying for any of these programs, please submit this form and a counselor will contact you.
Assistance for Tenants Who Are Behind
After closing due to lack of funds, ERAP was reopened on January 11, 2022 due to court order from a legal action by the Legal Aid Society. The court found that thousands of tenants with applications in limbo were denied a fair chance to avoid eviction. The program has recently been re-funded by New York State. If you owe back rent, you should still apply for ERAP. For more information and assistance, call 1-844-691-7368 or visit http://www.otda.ny.gov/erap
Assistance for Homeowners Who Are Behind
Often over-shadowed by the enormity of the eviction crisis, many small homeowners of 1-4 family units buildings, especially property owners of color, are behind on their mortgage payments, having lost income from work, nonpaying tenants, or a death in the family.
According to the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, a housing advocacy group, the average mortgage delinquency rate in predominantly Black neighborhoods in NYC has been 8.45% since September of 2021.
To assist small landlords, NY State introduced Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LARP). LARP provides landlords with the ability to apply for back rent themselves, if the tenant abandoned the property or refused to apply for ERAP. LARP ended in November 2021; however, the program has been re-funded in the FY 2023 state budget.
The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) is a program that assists homeowners with mortgage arrears on their primary, owner-occupied residence that are due to COVID. The assistance, which is capped at $50,000, can be used for any combination of arrears, whether due to mortgage debt, back property taxes, unpaid water bills, a home repair loan, and overdue homeowner association fees. The deadline to apply for HAF expired in February of 2022; however, there is a wait list, and elected officials and housing advocates are pushing for HAF. NHS Brooklyn will keep you posted on updates regarding the status of HAF.
If You Have Been Served as a Tenant
Removing a tenant from a premises must be done legally. It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks, lock out or bar the door, remove a tenant’s personal belongings, or attempt to harass or threaten a tenant into leaving.
If a tenant has been served a 14-day notice to pay back rent or a notice to cure, which is a request to correct a breach in the contract, such as an unauthorized modification, the tenant must file a written response. Ignoring the notice could lead to a default judgment (decision) in favor of the landlord. If you need assistance completing the paperwork, contact Housing Court Answers, a not-for-profit that helps tenants and landlords navigate the court system, at 212-962-475 or another not-for-profit, Brooklyn Legal, at 917-661-4500.
If you have been served a Notice to Vacate (leave) the property, make sure the landlord has given you enough time. According to the Stability & Tenant Protect Act of 2019, if a tenant has been living on a property for up to a year, the landlord must give the tenant 30 days’ notice to vacate; if one to two years, then the landlord must give 60 days’ notice to vacate; if two or more years, then 90 days’ notice. If a person has a lease, depending on how long they have been living there, the landlord must give proper notice in these timeframes before the lease expires.
If You Are Behind On Your Mortgage
If you fallen behind on your mortgage, the lender/servicer must complete the foreclosure process to acquire your home. In New York State, a lender/servicer must give the homeowner 90-days’ notice before the start of a foreclosure action. Keep in mind that the homeowner still maintains ownership of the property up until the sale.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments, please call a HUD-approved like NHS Brooklyn at 718-469-4679 or find a HUD-certified housing counseling or legal organization with a Homeowner Protection Program here.
Housing Connect: A Success Story
Clarence Vanterpool (Mr. V.) just wanted more space and privacy. For three years, the 71-year-old had been renting a room on Euclid Avenue in East New York, sharing the kitchen and bathroom with three other boarders.
“You had to deal with other people, share the bath and kitchen area. For a while, the stove wasn’t working, and we had to rely on a hot plate,” said Mr. V., the eldest of two sisters and three brothers.
At a time when rental prices continue to climb, finding a one-bedroom apartment to meet his budget was extremely difficult, especially for a senior.
In October 2020, while the COVID pandemic was still raging, Mr. V--still trying to change his circumstances--reached out to the Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation (RDRC), a Queens nonprofit.
RDRC in turn referred Mr. V to NHS Brooklyn. We are a “Housing Ambassador” for Housing Connect, which is administered by the Housing & Preservation Department (HPD), a NYC-government agency. Ambassadors assist residents with navigating Housing Connect 2.0, HPD’s online housing application platform, and provide support.
Witnessing new developments sprout in his neighborhood and beyond, Mr. V. was curious. He didn’t want an opportunity to pass him by and inquired about how to apply for lottery apartments.
NHS Brooklyn’s Government and Community Relations Manager, Tyrone McDonald, who is also certified as a housing counselor, assisted Mr. V. in creating a Housing Connect 2.0 account. (The 2.0 version of the platform was newly launched in July 2020, replacing the earlier version.)
Housing Connect allows the user to apply for rental apartment lotteries as well as to apply to purchase select houses and condos as well. Documents may be uploaded and appeals submitted using the platform. Mr. V. had an account on the old version of Housing Connect, but rarely used it. He relied solely on his cell phone to access the internet and felt uncomfortable navigating the new and old systems.
After assisting him, NHS Brooklyn helped him apply for several apartment lotteries across the city.
In October of 2021, Mr. V. was happy to report that one of the developments in Schroeder’s Walk in Spring Creek--walking distance from his old place--contacted him to submit additional documents for review, such as his ID, an income verification, and tax returns.
Shortly afterwards, he signed lease and now rents a private, one-bedroom apartment in a much larger space. What’s even better is that he now gets place-based Section 8 in his building, which he couldn’t get in the previous location and which makes his rent more affordable.
“I’m so glad I have a place all to myself and that I don’t have run into anybody when I need use the bathroom,” he laughed.
If you need help signing up for Housing Connect 2.0, call 718-469-4679 and ask for Tenant Support Housing Counselor Tobias Wingate. To sign up for upcoming webinars on Housing Connect or other tenant related events, visit www.nhsbrooklyn.org/upcoming-events.
New Faces at NHS Brooklyn
(Left to right)
Tenant Support Services Housing Counselor
Office Manager/Executive Assistant
Property Management Department Administrator
Click here to register for any of the events below.
∎ For Homeowners ∎ For Home Buyers ∎ For Tenants
∎ ∎ ∎ Financial Coaching & Credit Improvement
Thursday, June 23
6:00pm – 7:30pm
∎ ∎ ∎ Flood Insurance: What Is Your Risk? It Depends.
Tuesday, June 7
6:00pm – 7:00pm
∎ NEW! How to Apply for Affordable Housing Lotteries
Wednesday, June 1
6:00pm – 7:30pm