Mayor Adams Releases Homeowners Handbook Comprehensive Guide To Help Maintain Homes From Harlem To Hollis

July 27, 2022

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today released the “Homeowner Handbook: Protecting and Maintaining Home in NYC,” a comprehensive guide to help New Yorkers navigate the responsibilities of homeownership and access resources to protect and maintain their homes.

An initiative of the Homeowner Help Desk and a partnership between the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, the Office of the New York Attorney General, and local community-based organizations, the handbook builds on Mayor Adams’ $44 million investment in expanding homeownership to help New Yorkers — particularly in lower-income communities and communities of color — build and maintain wealth.

“The best way to build wealth is to own a home, and my administration is investing the money and doing the work to make the dream of homeownership a reality for more New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “I will not accept a city where Black and Brown communities and renters are priced out of the chance to build wealth for their children and grandchildren. The Homeowner Handbook will provide New Yorkers with critical tools to not only own a home, but also protect it and maintain it so they can pass it onto the next generation.”

“Homeownership is one of our most important tools to supporting housing stability and building generational wealth. The new Homeowner Handbook will help New Yorkers learn about the resources and programs available to maintain and stay in their homes,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “Our new citywide housing blueprint, ‘Housing Our Neighbors,’ prioritizes homeownership as a key step in tackling our housing shortage, and we are proud to partner with the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Neighborhood Services, and Brooklyn Legal Services to bring this new handbook to the community.”

New York City is placing homeownership front and center because we know it’s a proven path to building wealth, financial security, and equity for the next generation,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “The Homeowner Handbook is a tool to empower homeowners with the information they need to meet their responsibilities, keep their homes in good condition, and protect their homes if they fall on hard times. I thank the mayor for his leadership on this issue and all our partners for stepping up.”

The handbook will help owners of one- to four-family homes identify public entities and homeownership programs, with information on financial assistance and resources on maintaining and keeping a home.

It also includes guidance on regulations, addressing code violations, paying arrears, and complying with local laws.

HPD, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, and Brooklyn-based housing partners will share the handbook and other tools with homeowners at a homeowner resource fair tonight co-hosted with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York City Department of Buildings, and the New York City Department of Finance later today in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Homeowners can also call 1-855-HOME-456 to learn how to obtain a free copy of the Homeowner Handbook.

The Homeowner Handbook builds on Mayor Adams’ commitment to supporting homeowners and first-time homebuyers, outlined in “Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness.” Over the next four years, the administration expects to support 1,200 first-time homebuyers, help 450 households with critical home repairs, and reach 4,000 homeowners through the Homeowner Help Desk.

“While homeownership can lead to the American Dream, it’s not always an easy road to travel. The new Homeowner Handbook will help homeowners overcome any unexpected obstacles and navigate systems that disproportionately impact low-income communities — from managing tax lien sales to making critical home repairs,” said Christie Peale, CEO and executive director, Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “For New York to remain an equitable city, where people from diverse economic backgrounds can thrive, we must support New Yorkers in their goals of owning their homes — and keeping them for future generations. We extend our deep thanks to Mayor Adams and HPD for their continued investment in intergenerational wealth and stability.”

“New Yorkers have a basic right to safe and affordable housing, but far too many homeowners have fallen prey to deed theft and other predatory housing scams,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Using funds from my office’s initiative to prevent deed theft, this new Homeowner Handbook will help build on our efforts to educate New Yorkers about these scams, their rights, and ensure they can remain in their homes. I am proud to partner with Mayor Adams, HPD, and housing advocates to launch this critical resource and protect our communities for years to come.”

Born out of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan — a community planning effort in which Mayor Adams was involved as Brooklyn borough president — the Homeowner Handbook is a product of the city’s Homeowner Help Desk, an initiative piloted in Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, and the North Bronx with funding from Enterprise Community Partners and the Office of the New York Attorney General, which the administration has committed to expanding.

Other help-desk partners include:

  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (NHS Brooklyn CDC) Inc.,
  • Brooklyn Neighborhood Services,
  • Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A,
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica,
  • Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA),
  • Bronx Legal Services, and
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC.

Since its launch to support homeowners facing the greatest risk of displacement, the help desk has successfully reached 34,000 homeowners, connected more than 800 residents to services, and helped more than 400 homeowners strengthen their financial situations.

The Adams administration’s recommitment to homeownership comes amid a 20-year decline in the homeownership rate among Black New Yorkers, exacerbated by the 2008 foreclosure crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision to become a homeowner is one of the most significant and impactful financial decisions in the lives of working-class individuals and families,” said U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez. “In response to the economic devastation of the pandemic, President Biden and congressional Democrats allocated nearly $10 billion to state and local governments like New York City to help homeowners behind on their mortgage and utility payments avoid foreclosure and eviction. I thank Mayor Adams and HPD for developing this initiative, which will allow more New York homeowners to access the financial resources tools available in order to help them stay in their homes.”

“Ensuring our communities and the people who call them home have the resources they need to thrive must always be a priority of this city. The Homeowner Handbook will serve as an edifying guide for untold New Yorkers navigating the increasingly complex reality of homeownership for years to come, along with providing a blueprint to build upon whenever new developments arrive,” said U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke. “I thank Mayor Adams for his advocacy on this issue, and I look forward to future efforts to keep the low-income communities and communities of color most affected by these issues safe in their homes.”

“The Homeowner Handbook will be a great resource for current and prospective owners,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “The housing market in Brooklyn is a tough one, and many of our constituents yearn for the practical and technical tools that make asset-building and homeownership possible.”

“For too long, discriminatory policies and exclusion from homeownership opportunities have been key drivers of the racial wealth gap that we see today and made it increasingly difficult for New Yorkers of color to build and maintain wealth through homeownership,” said New York State Senator Jamaal Bailey. “The Homeowner Handbook along with the city’s unprecedented investment to expand affordable homeownership opportunities will help communities across the city, from the North Bronx to Brooklyn, access the support and resources they need to buy and maintain their homes. I applaud Mayor Adams and the administration for tackling this critically important issue and continued investment in advancing affordable homeownership throughout the city.”

“Homeownership is an integral part of building strong communities, especially in many parts of the northern and northwestern Bronx,” said New York State Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “Many New Yorkers may not know how to manage owning a home, and I am excited about this new resource from Mayor Adams. Kudos!”

“If you’re a homeowner in New York City, accessing the right resources to help you maintain and protect your home can be a time-consuming and often confusing proposition,” said New York State Assemblymember Steve Cymbrowitz, chair, Committee on Housing. “I commend the mayor’s office for compiling this useful guide to help New Yorkers quickly and easily navigate the information they need to help them be responsible, safety-conscious homeowners.”

“For years, I have felt like the lone wolf, out in the wilderness trying to preach to anyone who would listen about the benefits of homeownership. As much as people rallied behind the noble cause of affordable housing as a means of slowing the tide of displacement, it is ownership that keeps communities intact,” said New York State Assemblymember Inez Dickens. “So to learn that Mayor Eric Adams will be making a $44 million investment to expand homeownership as a genuine stopgap to gentrification allows me to finally feel the fight that this fight for our communities and, more importantly, our economic future is not in vain.”

“For many, homeownership represents a key step towards achieving the American Dream, and for far too long this milestone has been out of reach, especially for Black Americans,” said New York State Assemblymember Al Taylor. “The 2008 foreclosure crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated this issue, and we need transformative action to help New Yorkers protect their homes, build generational wealth, and close the racial wealth gap. I applaud Mayor Adams for his commitment to homeownership and for putting forth a comprehensive guide to help New Yorkers, particularly New Yorkers in lower-income communities and communities of color, make this dream a reality. I also applaud the Homeowner Help Desk for connecting thousands of homeowners with the resources they need to avoid displacement.  Housing is a human right, and I look forward to continuing to work together with Mayor Adams and other leaders as we make permanent, safe, reliable housing a reality for all New Yorkers.”

“My district has a homeownership rate almost 30 percent higher than the citywide average, and the mayor’s Homeowner Handbook will be a crucial support for my constituents,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Homeownership provides stability for people and communities, helps emerging communities build wealth, and fosters bonds among neighbors. I also applaud the mayor’s commitment to help 1,200 New Yorkers realize their dream of homeownership by 2026.”

“Here in Southeast Queens, our homeowners have struggled for years; we look forward to continuing partnering with our homeownership advocacy community-based organizations,” said New York State Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson. “For most New Yorkers, homeownership represents success, and it often marks a lifetime achievement. The ‘Homeowner Handbook: Protecting and Maintaining Homes in NYC,’ announced by Mayor Adams is a critical first step in preserving equitable and affordable homeownership opportunities. The handbook will help owners of one- to four-family homes identify public entities and homeownership programs, with information on financial assistance and resources for maintaining and keeping a home. It also includes guidance on regulations, addressing code violations, paying arrears, and complying with local laws.”

“Homeownership has been a tool of wealth creation in America. The percentage of people of color who own homes in America, however, has been decreasing since the mid-2000s,” said New York State Assemblymember Chantel Jackson. “It is clear that any effort to lift the economic status of people of color in our city must begin with an increase in their ownership of homes, and I support the mayor’s efforts to do that through the new Homeowner Handbook.”

“Homeownership is synonymous to the American Dream. By releasing this plan, the mayor is committing to make the American Dream a reality in our communities,” said New York State Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia. “I applaud the mayor for dedicating important resources to guide the many New Yorkers who may have questions navigating the complexities of the housing market.”

“Keeping families, especially long-term Brooklynites, in their homes was an important community priority during my transition, and I’m glad that Mayor Adams is helping support this through his Homeowner Handbook, built from the Bed-Stuy Housing Plan in Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Building sustainable community growth, continuity, and generational wealth is important for the future of our borough and city, and I look forward to supporting strong plans that will help further accomplish this.”

“Owning a home is one of the most impactful and effective ways for families to build generational wealth. But for many New Yorkers, especially during difficult financial times, navigating homeownership can be an incredibly difficult and confusing process,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “With the Homeowner Handbook, I’m confident we can successfully connect homeowners and new homebuyers with the resources they need to safeguard one of the most important investments they will ever make.”

“When COVID-19 arrived in New York City, all New Yorkers were impacted and among them homeowners. For this reason, I applaud the mayor’s decision to release the ‘Homeowner Handbook: Protecting and Maintaining Home in NYC,’ which looks to support homeowners with the unique and specific challenges they face,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson. “As we look to increase homeownership in the Bronx and citywide, this booklet demonstrates the city’s support for current and potential homeowners and that we are prepared to address issues like flooding, sanitation, parking, and more. I want to thank the mayor for his work with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, Brooklyn Neighborhood Services, and Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A for their work in providing critical resources to our homeowners at this critical time.”

“Owning a home is often considered the American Dream and gives families an opportunity for growth, stability, and in some cases, financial reward,” said Staten Island Borough President Vito J. Fossella. “We hope this handbook will aid the next generation of homeowners on Staten Island and provide resources to them to keep this asset. I want to thank Mayor Adams for encouraging future homeowners to maintain their version of the American Dream.”

“The mayor’s Homeowner Handbook is an important resource to every home-owning New Yorker, especially first-time homeowners,” said New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreu. “Owning a home is a critical chance to build and maintain wealth in a community, and New Yorkers should not be burdened by the task of digging through countless statutes and regulations to understand the home-owning process. This handbook will streamline the home-owning experience and simplify the path to sustained prosperity for our neighbors.”

“Having this guide is a great resource for homeowners, especially first-time homeowners,” said New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola. “The information provided will be an invaluable reference as to what their responsibility is regarding many of the shared functions between the homeowner and the city.”

“The HPD Homeowner Handbook is a critical city resource that helps property owners maneuver the responsibilities of ownership,” said New York City Councilmember Gale A. Brewer. “I commend Mayor Adams for his commitment to empowering New York homeowners, who need more support across the board.”

“Homeownership is a principal building blocks to creating generational wealth,” New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “This significant investment in the Homeowner Help Desk’s initiatives will build a sustainable pipeline for lower-income New Yorkers to access vital housing services, provide resources for New Yorkers to protect and maintain their homes, and navigational tools to overcome the most complex housing issues. I applaud Mayor Eric Adams for his commitment to creating a pathway for Black and Brown New Yorkers to achieve the American Dream.”

“The barriers to homeownership have never been higher in our city, especially for low-income and communities of color,” said New York City Councilmember Kamillah Hanks. “Educating New Yorkers on the ins and outs of financing, owning, and maintaining a home, as well as providing the necessary resources to do so, is an invaluable step toward expanding homeownership toward prospective first-time owners, especially in the outer boroughs like here on Staten Island, and also toward helping build capital for them and future generations.”

“This guide from the mayor will help a lot of New Yorkers navigate the often-confusing world of homeownership,” said New York City Councilmember Robert Holden. “Not all homeowners are wealthy. Far from it, especially in a blue-collar neighborhood like mine. More than ever, they need help, and Mayor Adams is helping with this guide.”

“Homeownership is a bedrock of the American Dream, and the release of the Homeowner Handbook will help our neighbors achieve generational wealth,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph. “Community members having the Homeowner Handbook at their disposal will be an invaluable resource. As always, my office and I remain committed to giving folks the tools they need to achieve financial security.”

“The Homeowner Handbook will be a useful and much-needed tool in protecting homeowners across our city,” said New York City Councilmember Chi Ossé. “This is especially important in an era of rampant deed theft and overlapping economic crises that place pressure on families whose homes are by far their single most important asset, usually constituting a majority of their wealth. I’m especially proud to see this develop from my district’s own ‘Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan.’ The release of this handbook — and the work of the Homeowner Help Desk more generally — are shining examples of the action of good, responsive government. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the mayor’s office in the vital work of protecting the wealth, health, and homes of all New Yorkers.”

“Providing equitable access to education, resources, and opportunity not only makes homeownership more obtainable in historically underserved communities, but also provides enhanced sustainable support for homeowners to maintain their homes in these same neighborhoods. This is critical to many New York City families and to the future of our communities,” said New York City Councilmember Kevin C. Riley. “The Homeowner Handbook strengthens the mayor’s commitment to better serving New Yorkers through protecting their homes and empowering them to build generational wealth.”

“As we continue to rebuild after the pandemic, Mayor Adams’ commitment to supporting new and current homeowners is a turning point,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “There are many resources that owners are unaware of, and they must have access to them for the development of our communities. This handbook comes at a pivotal time for my district, as we have HPD on the ground supporting homeowners after experiencing flooding that led to a sinkhole in Morris Park. This handbook is a vital tool, making city resources more transparent and accessible. We hope the handbook will be distributed to other areas, including the Bronx and district 13, where homeowners make up the majority of our constituency.”

“We need an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said New York City Councilmember Inna Vernikov. “The city has had a homelessness issue that keeps getting more difficult and more challenging. We need to leverage resources across all agencies, encourage homeownership, and give people the tools and pathways to get there. It is great that the mayor understands that this 20-year trend of homeownership decline is troubling for the city and carries over into other issues and needs reversal and recommitment from stakeholders.”

“This handbook will provide homeowners with critical guidance so that they’ll have more understanding of the issues that can affect them and provide much-needed guidance on complex challenges, like foreclosure,” said Jessica Rose, executive director, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. “We want communities to thrive. And we want low- and moderate-income homeowners to be able to stay in their homes and preserve their equity. This handbook will help them do that.”

“NHS Brooklyn is excited to be part of the launch of the Homeowner Handbook,” said Angella Davidson, program director of foreclosure, NHS Brooklyn CDC Inc. “The Homeowner Handbook is an invaluable resource that will ensure that housing counselors and legal service providers are no longer ‘the best-kept secret’ for families looking for assistance with housing issues.”

“We’re excited to be a part of this collaborative effort to continue to address an issue that has impacted our community for quite some time,” said Richard Trouth, executive director, Brooklyn Neighborhood Services. “We continue to see lives disrupted and families lose their most valuable asset. Information is key to addressing the problem, and this initiative will provide homeowners and their tenants with the invaluable resources they need to recognize a scam, avoid it, and stay in their homes.”

“For decades, Black and brown homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods across the city have been targeted by scammers looking to trick them out of their deeds and a lifetime of equity,” said Alexis Lorenzo, director, Neighborhood Stabilization Project, Bronx Legal Services. “The Homeowner Handbook is a valuable resource for connecting distressed homeowners with experienced legal advocates like ourselves and to other recourse that will help them protect their homes from speculation and predatory behavior.”

“The Homeowner Handbook will become a critical resource to empower New York’s homeowners, especially for older adults who can often struggle to find accurate resources and information they need to protect and maintain their homes,” said JASA CEO Kathryn Haslanger.“JASA is committed to continuing to work with Mayor Adams, the city, and our partners to provide our city’s older adults with the information and legal services to enable them to age with dignity and autonomy in their own home.”

“Since the transition to primarily Black homeownership over 50 years ago, Southeast Queens homeowners have been victimized by redlining and predatory lending practices that make homeownership not only more difficult to achieve but also harder to sustain. Disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, we are again in a struggle to stabilize homeowners and protect them from the bad actors primed to take advantage of their distress,” said Lori Miller, executive director, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Jamaica. “The Homeowner Handbook is a valuable resource, especially for those who don’t know what their options are or that there are organizations like NHS of Jamaica, The Legal Aid Society — Jamaica Branch, JASA, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and many others throughout the city who stand ready to assist them.”

“For too many New Yorkers, homeownership is a dream rather than a reality, and even when it becomes a reality, it can be difficult or overwhelming to manage the responsibilities of maintaining a home,” said Baaba Halm, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “The Homeowner Handbook is a much-needed resource that will help New Yorkers, especially first-time homeowners from historically marginalized groups, to protect and maintain their homes. We are proud to support the city’s help desk for homeowners, and resources like the handbook are vital resources for city residents as they navigate the challenging but rewarding experience of homeownership.”

“Across New York City, Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately impacted by homeownership disparities,” said Valerie White, senior executive director, LISC NYC. “The Homeowner Handbook is a step forward in addressing these inequalities and in helping first-time homebuyers establish a solid footing toward building generational wealth.”

Photo credit: 1) Harlem brownstone. 2) The cover of the Homeowner Handbook. Credit: New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

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