WASHINGTON – June 24, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — In a victory for communities across New York State that are still struggling to recover from the foreclosure crisis, both houses of the Legislature passed two pieces of legislation that, combined, will have a tangible impact on upstate and Long Island communities still struggling to recover from neighborhood blight caused by the recession and the foreclosure crisis. Today, Governor Cuomo signed these two important pieces of legislation into law.

The new law makes significant improvements to mandatory settlement conferences and notices provisions – both key components of the foreclosure process. It creates a fair process for expediting foreclosures on vacant and abandoned properties, and will require that banks maintain those properties early on so they do not fall into disrepair, creating blight and making it difficult to get properties back in the hands of homeowners. Finally, it will create a new homeowner bill of rights.

“I’m so proud to have been involved in bringing this new law to fruition,” said Kirsten Keefe, a Senior Attorney at Empire Justice Center. “It brings together multiple strands that, combined, will help homeowners, neighborhoods and municipalities, and New York State at large, move from crisis into recovery. The settlement conference and notice improvements alone will have an immense impact. I look forward to seeing this new law put into action.”

“It’s incredibly exciting to see all of our foreclosure related legislative priorities accomplished in one fell swoop,” said Kristin Brown, Vice President for Policy and Government Relations at Empire Justice. “We applaud Governor Cuomo and both houses of the Legislature for taking such a comprehensive approach to a pervasive problem that continues to plague communities across New York State.”

The second law [A. 10730 (Weinstein)/S.8141 (Savino)] will create a Community Restoration Fund. The fund will allow the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) to purchase distressed mortgage notes from the federal government so that they can work with homeowners, municipalities, not for profits and land banks to keep homeowners in their homes, and rehabilitate or demolish properties where that is not possible.

For more information about this and other Empire Justice priorities, see http://www.empirejustice.org/about-us/press/press-releases/2016-leg-session-pr.html.

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Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy, public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low-income families live. Empire Justice protects and strengthens the legal rights of people in New York State who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and high quality direct civil legal representation. Empire Justice has four offices in Albany, Rochester, Yonkers, White Plains and Central Islip on Long Island.

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