Rezoning, Legal Programs to Address Foreclosures in Brooklyn

by on Foreclosure Help

Throughout the housing meltdown, the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched various programs to cut down the number of foreclosures in Brooklyn and in the four other boroughs of the city.

Another program launched by Bloomberg this week is the NYC Service Legal Outreach, which was designed to provide free legal assistance to distressed homeowners as they negotiate with their lenders during the compulsory settlement meetings. If these homeowners have legal representation, they are more likely to work out affordable payment schemes so they can remain in their homes.

The free legal assistance program will involve the participation of 300 lawyers who have volunteered to help nonprofits carry out loan modifications for at-risk homeowners. They will be supervised by NYC Service, the broad initiative launched by the mayor to improve the quality of service to New Yorkers and to direct city resources to the neediest areas.

Additionally, the program will be carried out as one of the many components of the 2010 State of City program crafted by Bloomberg to make his residential foreclosure prevention effort the best in the nation.

Foreclosures in Brooklyn and in other parts of New York City were not yet a problem when Bloomberg launched its city rezoning program in 2003. But a deeper analysis could determine if the rezoning program had any impact on the pace of foreclosures in the city.

The aggressive rezoning program, carried out from 2003 to 2007, rezoned 18 percent of lots in the city, according to a study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at the New York University. Of the rezoned lots, 86 percent were given restrictions on building capacity and on structure type.

According to Vicki Been, lead author of the study, city officials announced they were rezoning to prepare New York City for about 1 million additional residents by 2030. But the results of the rezoning program showed that there were more downzonings, which limited rather than increased capacity. The rezoning may have created additional capacity for only about 200,000 more people.

City officials, however, insisted that the city will be able to meet housing demand for all types of households, from low-income to high-income families.

Meanwhile, other housing analysts suggested that New York foreclosures, including foreclosures in Brooklyn, can increase the city housing stock if these distressed properties are redeveloped into affordable multifamily properties that can be rented out or sold to low- to moderate-income households in the city.