Opening a foreclosed door

Posted 6/7/22

MONTICELLO, NY — The instability of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s housing security.

In the Household Pulse Survey for April 27 to May 9, a survey …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Opening a foreclosed door


MONTICELLO, NY — The instability of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s housing security.

In the Household Pulse Survey for April 27 to May 9, a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau to track the pandemic’s impact, 38.3 percent of respondents reported that foreclosure or eviction in the next two months was either somewhat or very likely. For New York, that percentage was 37.3 (with a 10.8 percent margin of error).

New York State has offered help to homeowners throughout the pandemic, extending deadlines and offering funding to help homeowners keep their houses. Sullivan County has helped those relief efforts along, extending its internal foreclosure redemption deadlines to help homeowners take advantage of state aid. The county recently extended its deadlines for purportedly the final time. Under the latest extension, property owners who owe back taxes from 2019 or 2020 have until June 30 to redeem their properties. As long as they pay their property’s taxes in full, that property will be redeemed and not subject to foreclosure.

Two main factors compelled the county to offer this extension, according to county treasurer Nancy Buck.

New York State has offered funding for housing relief in the pandemic through the Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF), established in 2021 with federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The HAF can provide homeowners with up to $50,000 for delinquent housing payments including mortgage payments, property taxes and condominium fees. Applicants have to live in the home they’re requesting relief for, and do not have to pay the money back if they stay in that home for five years.

Twenty-four homeowners in Sullivan County have been approved for assistance on their property taxes from the HAF, resulting in around a quarter of a million dollars coming to Sullivan County. HAF didn’t distribute its funding to all the homeowners who got approved by the county’s previous deadline of April 30, says Buck.

The other reason the county extended its deadline stems from the chaos of the pandemic.

The county pushed back deadlines for both the 2019 and the 2020 foreclosure rounds owing to the pandemic. Given the way the foreclosure process works, the towns only have the records for the 2020 round; the county becomes the collector of delinquent taxes following the towns’ handing them off.

Around 50 homeowners have paid their 2020 taxes but not their 2019 taxes, which Buck chalks it up to their calling the towns to see what they owed and the towns not having the 2019 records.

Pushing back the foreclosure deadline allows both groups of homeowners more time to get their taxes in order, giving more homeowners time to keep their houses. It also opens Pandora’s Box, creating an image of flexibility around a deadline that is typically rigid.

Explaining the extension to the Sullivan County Legislature on May 19, Buck said it was a very hard decision to make. “I know it’s the right decision, but I still know it’s going to haunt me.”

The county’s redemption deadline has been extended six times in the past two years. The state extended it from January 31, 2021 to May 1, and again to August 31. The county treasurer’s office extended it to September 3, after which it reverted to January 31. In 2022, the county extended the January 31 redemption deadline to April 30 following the opening of the HAF, and then again to June 30.

“Next year, I know it’s going to be hell when we have people come in and say, ‘You did this last year, and why don’t we do it again?’ It’s a terrible precedent,” said Buck. “So with heavy heart, I am making this decision to do it.”

foreclosure, extension, COVID-19, relief, state aid


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here