416 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
1414 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11226
Room 842 LOB
Albany, NY 12248
Last December my office introduced a bill in the Legislature to provide for a one-year moratorium on mortgage foreclosures in New York State. The purpose of this bill was to impose a one-year delay between the moment where the lender has proven entitlement to foreclosure and the actual court order which transfers title and enables foreclosure to proceed. The intention was to provide an incentive to both the homeowner and the bank to renegotiate the loan so that the homeowner can afford to stay in the house.
The Assembly overwhelmingly passed my bill in early May, along with several other pieces of legislation designed to prevent this crisis from recurring. However, the Senate was unwilling to follow our lead due to pressure from the banking industry, which claimed that the laws in New York State were strict enough. After much negotiation, the Governor called a press conference on June 19 to announce a compromise (see picture, p.2), and the final bill was passed by both houses of the Legislature near the end of the session. The New York Times printed an analysis of the compromise in which they quoted me: “I actually believe that the pressure for this moratorium led the Senate and the banking industry to compromise.”
The final result, while not allowing for a moratorium, modifies the foreclosure process. It provides for a 90-day pre-foreclosure notice to alert borrowers that they are in default and advises them of assistance that is available. It provides for a mandatory settlement conference to bring the borrower and lender together to attempt to reach a satisfactory settlement so that homeowners can stay in their homes.
Much of this problem originated from the practices used by the sub-prime lending market. These include lenders who did not realistically vet a borrower’s ability to repay the loan or misrepresented the monthly payments by not explaining how high they could go after the “teaser” rate expired. These practices will no longer be allowed. New rules provide that:
ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The first is a one-year green roof tax abatement (A.11226) which will encourage construction and maintenance of green roofs in New York City. Green roofs consist of vegetation planted on a roof top and provide multiple environmental benefits, including a reduction in rainwater entering the sewers, absorption of air pollution, and stabilization of the building’s temperature thereby reducing the need for energy to heat or cool its interior.
The second bill encourages investment in solar generating systems (A.11202) by allowing a four-year real property tax abatement for construction of a solar system. Increased use of solar energy reduces dependence on fossil fuels, which in turn reduces pollution.
A third bill allows for net metering for non-residential customers (A.11146). Currently, residences that generate more electricity from solar systems than they use may sell the excess back to their utility, saving money and allowing for this clean electricity to be used where it is needed. This bill will permit non-residential customers to do the same, encouraging businesses to make an investment in this clean energy technology.
The Brownfield Cleanup Program was established in 2003 to enhance private-sector cleanup of property that is potentially contaminated by hazardous waste or petroleum. While the original program was a good start, it fell short of the anticipated cleanup and redevelopment. The legislation we passed this session (A.11768) is aimed at further encouraging the cleanup and development of industrial sites that have been unused for decades. It will encourage more thorough cleanup of these properties by increasing tax incentives for certain projects, making the process more economically feasible.
“SAFE HARBOR” FOR EXPLOITED YOUTH
The workplace is all too often a prime target for identity thieves. This bill applies confidentiality protections in order to prevent the intentional distribution of Social Security Numbers to the public. By providing these safeguards and restricting employer use of employees’ information, we are protecting individuals from the misuse of their personal information.
In addition, identity theft victims will be able to seek assistance from the Consumer Protection Board’s Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program. It will assist victims in repairing their financial and credit history.
TIPS FOR USING CREDIT CARDS RESPONSIBLY
Understand Your Card Terms
Don't Be a “Revolver”
Pay More than the Minimum
Just Say “NO” to Cash Advances
Pay on Time
Stay Within Your Credit Limit
Monitor Your Interest Rate (APR)