During a legislative session when housing is at the top of the agenda, the head of New York’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) argues it would be shortsighted not to fund a program that keeps people in their homes. 

“[HOPP] has been extremely successful at preserving home ownership. (It’s) very cost-effective, and it’s regrettable that every year we go through this exercise of having to justify ourselves and ensure that the Legislature doesn’t let the state’s investment in this network lapse by defunding the program,” Jacob Inwald, director of litigation and economic justice at Legal Services NYC, told Capital Tonight.

HOPP is a network of 89 nonprofits that provides free housing counseling and legal services to New Yorkers who are facing threats to their homeownership. The program is administered through the state attorney general’s office.

“It funds housing counseling agencies and legal service providers, nonprofits who work with homeowners at-risk of losing their home ownership from a variety of threats — tax lien foreclosures, mortgage foreclosures, deed thefts and other scams targeting homeowners, especially in gentrifying areas,” Inwald explained. 

For the last several years, HOPP has received $40 million in state funding. Inwald says advocates are requesting level funding, even though the need has increased.

HOPP’s caseload doubled last year as the pandemic “wreaked havoc” on many homeowners, Inwald said. 

“With foreclosures on the rise, the families we serve in every county desperately need our help,” he explained. “New York’s mortgage default rates remain at record high levels, especially in communities of color, where those rates are more than double those for white homeowners.”

For more information on the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), visit https://homeownerhelpny.org/