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Governor Hochul

January 3, 2022 - 4:02pm
posted by Press Release in Governor Hochul, housing, news, nys.

Press Release: 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that applications are now being accepted for the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund (NYS HAF), a program that will provide up to $539 million in aid or other direct assistance to help eligible homeowners who are at risk of default, foreclosure, or displacement due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic. New York was the first state in the nation to receive U.S. Department of the Treasury approval to launch its program.

"For many, buying a home is the greatest source of economic and social stability, and our Homeowner Assistance Fund - the first in the nation to be approved - is a critical tool to help ease the pain of the pandemic felt disproportionately in rural communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities," Governor Hochul said."My administration will continue to stand by homeowners, renters and all New Yorkers every step of the way as part of our economic recovery."

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "What we do now to help our fellow New Yorkers keep their homes will impact communities and our state for generations to come by contributing to its vitality and building future successes. We cannot and we will not stand by as homeownership and economic gains are threatened in historically disadvantaged communities. Working with our partners in legal services and community-based housing organizations, we have designed the Homeowner Assistance Fund program to help our at-risk families in every corner of the state regain financial stability."

Attorney General Letitia James said, "As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the health and wallets of New Yorkers, it is critical that homeowners are granted the relief they need," said Attorney General Letitia James. "The Homeowner Assistance Fund will go a long way in helping homeowners get through this crisis, but it's imperative that these funds are used to support not replace the mortgage industry's own efforts to help struggling homeowners. Through our new Mortgage Enforcement Unit, my office will ensure that these funds go where they are needed and can protect as many homeowners as possible."

Designed and administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), NYS HAF targets low- to moderate-income homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments, property taxes, and water and sewer bills. The program is also open to owners of cooperative or condo units who are behind on maintenance fees, and manufactured homeowners behind on chattel loans, retail installment contracts or lot rents. 

Applicants may receive financial assistance to catch up on missed housing payments, to reduce mortgage debt to make monthly mortgage payments more affordable, and for homeowners who are unemployed, assistance with up to six months of future housing payments.

HCR is also working in partnership with the Office of the New York State Attorney General's Mortgage Enforcement Unit to advocate with mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers to ensure homeowners are receiving all available relief under federal and state rules. This may include extended mortgage terms, deferment of missed payments or forbearance amounts, and lower interest rates to reduce monthly payments. 

The NYS HAF call center - 844-77-NYHAF (844-776-9423) - will operate Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. to assist homeowners and provide critical information about the program and instructions on how to apply. 

The NYS HAF website - www.nyhomeownerfund.org - includes Frequently Asked Questionsa step-by-step application guide, and a document checklist so that applicants know what documentation may be needed to submit their application.

Last month, Governor Hochul announced the launch of the NYS HAF program website, an information call center, and a multilingual marketing campaign that is helping educate homeowners about the program and ensure all eligible New Yorkers, especially those in non-English speaking households, are ready and able to apply.

By examining previous assistance state programs, HCR designed a more streamlined application to ensure the process is simple and easy for homeowners to navigate. Efficiencies include: 

· Utilizing several industry-standard, third-party verification technologies that confirm applicant identification and/or ownership, and may limit the number of documents that a homeowner needs to provide as part of their application.

· Allowing the application to be started, paused, and resumed later without losing data and information already entered.

· Accepting signed attestations from applicants to minimize the number of documents they will need to submit.

To make the application process accessible for all homeowners, and to assist those with limited access to technology or limited English language fluency, HCR has made the following accommodations: 

· Applicants may authorize a relative or other surrogate to submit an application on their behalf and continue to communicate directly with program staff to track the status of that application.

· NYS HAF has partnered with a network of over 70 housing counseling and legal services providers to allow direct access to the online application portal and who will be able to submit multiple applications on behalf of their clients.

· Homeowners can contact the NYS HAF call center and apply over the phone.

· The website and supporting materials are available in English and ten additional languages: Arabic, Bengali, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, and Spanish.

· The online application is available in English, Arabic, Bengali, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish.

· The Call Center will be able to assist with language translations for any application

Since announcing the program in early December, HCR mobilized an outreach and education campaign directed to vulnerable homeowners to ensure they understood the program and were prepared to apply. This included mobilizing a team of 23 community-based organizations, covering every region of the state, to work with their targeted constituencies of at-risk homeowners. Areas of particular interest are those historically subjected to housing discrimination, areas where homeowners may have limited access to the internet, and communities where there is a high level of homeownership distress.

In addition, a statewide multilingual marketing campaign was created in an effort to reach vulnerable homeowners in their own language through trusted media outlets in communities where English is not the primary language.

The NYS HAF program is administered by Sustainable Neighborhoods LLC, a non-profit community development financial institution selected through a competitive Request for Proposals. Sustainable Neighborhoods has extensive experience administering foreclosure prevention and loss mitigation programs across the state.

Sustainable Neighborhoods CEO/Executive Director Christie Peale said, "Thousands of low-income homeowners who have been struggling financially because of COVID will now get the relief they desperately need, thanks to the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund. Whether you live in a manufactured home, a condominium, coop or a single-family home, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible to receive assistance. It is urgent that we help as many families as possible keep their homes, despite the damaging impacts of the pandemic. We thank Governor Hochul for her leadership and dedication."

December 31, 2021 - 6:57pm
posted by Press Release in Governor Hochul, nys, COVID-19, health, plan, news.

Press Release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced Winter Surge Plan 2.0, a new targeted effort to bolster New York's fight against the winter surge. Governor Hochul's comprehensive plan focuses on five core areas: keeping students in school, doubling down on masks and testing, preventing severe illness and death, increasing access to vaccines and boosters, and working together with local leaders. Hours before the New Year begins, Governor Hochul also urged New Yorkers to celebrate New Year's Eve in a safe, responsible way.    

"As we head into the holiday weekend, New York State is mobilizing every resource at our disposal to fight the winter surge and keep New Yorkers safe," Governor Hochul said. "We can get through this surge through targeted actions, partnerships with local leaders, and by taking common sense steps to keep us all safe: get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear a mask indoors."

"We have every tool to keep our families and communities safe," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "We must ensure we use them all. Governor Hochul's targeted plan to expand vaccination and booster access, mask and test, and increase measures to protect our health care workers is the comprehensive strategy needed to combat the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Leveraging these layered mitigation tactics is how we will protect the health of New Yorkers and effectively manage the winter surge." 

1. Keep Schools Open: After two years of remote learning and school closures, Governor Hochul is focused on keeping students in school in the upcoming year. The first plank of Governor Hochul's 5-part plan includes:    

  • Providing tests to students and school districts: 5.56 million tests arrived for schools this week and between six and seven million more are expected to arrive in the coming days. New York has mobilized 40 trucks and 86 state personnel to distribute tests. Overall, New York State has secured 37 million tests for distribution.
  • Working with counties to implement Test-to-Stay: Test-to-Stay policies have proven successful at keeping our kids safe and schools open. If a student tests positive, classmates can take a test kit back home with them and return to the classroom upon receiving a negative result instead of mandatory quarantining. 
  • Keeping college students and faculty safe: SUNY and CUNY will be introducing a new requirement for all students to get boosters, campuses will require mandatory mask wearing in public indoor spaces, and will require all faculty to be vaccinated. Students will also be required to submit negative tests upon returning to campus.

 2. Keep Masking, Keep Testing: Governor Hochul recognizes that to stop the spread of the virus, New Yorkers must continue wearing masks and getting tested for COVID. Governor Hochul will:

  • Extend the mask-or-vax requirement: the Department of Health will extend the mask-or-vaccine requirement for an additional two weeks, protecting workers and allowing businesses to remain open.
  • Make masks more widely available: New York State has already distributed 5 million KN-95 masks, and more will be distributed through state legislators. Hundreds of thousands of masks will also be distributed for nursing home visitors.
  • Launch new testing sites: Governor Hochul will open six new testing sites on January 4, totaling 19 state-run sites statewide. Additionally, Governor Hochul announced the launch of two new testing sites at MTA stations, in addition to previously announced MTA pop-ups.

3. Preventing Severe Illness and Death: With case counts rising, Governor Hochul is making it a priority to prevent severe illness and death by supporting our hospital system. The Winter Surge Plan 2.0 will:    

  • Distribute antiviral treatments: New York is working with the Biden Administration to secure doses of the antiviral drug Pavloxid and make this treatment more widely available.
  • Boost hospital capacity: Governor Hochul will continue enforcing the November 26 Executive Order to boost hospital capacity. Since it took effect, the number of hospitals with limited capacity needing to pause non-essential surgeries has declined from 32 to 21.    
  • Launch National Guard EMT training: to ramp up our long-term health care workforce capacity needs, the Department of Health and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs will be launching two pilot EMT training classes on January 5th. This will cover two classes of 40 service members (80 service members in total) who will be able to be deployed by February.
  • Secure additional help from Federal partners: in the coming days, we will receive federal Department of Defense (DoD) Medical Response and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs). This will include a 35-member DMAT to SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, 23-member DoD Medical Response Team to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, and 50 new ambulance teams deployed to NYC.
  • Protect nursing home residents and workers: the Hochul Administration is in constant contact with all 606 nursing homes in New York and will be providing them with additional PPE to ensure the safety of all patients and staff. Additionally, the Administration is coordinating with hospitals and will be deploying durable medical equipment in continued support of the care for all New Yorkers.

4. Expand Access to Vaccines and Boosters: Vaccines continue to be the best defense against COVID hospitalization and death. While 95% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one shot, there's more to do to increase vaccination and booster rates, especially among children:

  • Provide boosters to nursing homes: New York will begin requiring each nursing home to demonstrate their plan to increase vaccination and booster rates among their residents.    
  • Increase pediatric vaccination: the most unvaccinated eligible cohort is New Yorkers aged 5-11. New York will increase our focus on pediatric vaccination.    
  • Get booster shots to teenagers: we anticipate approval of Pfizer's booster shot for children aged 12-15 and will immediately begin outreach to that population once ready.

5. Work With Local Partners: From the beginning, Governor Hochul has emphasized that the fight against COVID must take a collaborative approach. Fighting the winter surge requires close collaboration with local partners:    

  • Let local leaders lead: from New York City to Erie County, local leaders are making smart choices. We will continue this surgical, targeted approach.    
  • Provide resources to local partners: Governor Hochul will continue to lead a whole-of-government approach to fight COVID, making sure county emergency managers and local school boards have the tests and masks they need. 

 

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