By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
It was bitter cold on Saturday, January 2, 2010, but that didn’t stop nearly 700 Brooklynites and people from other communities from showing up at Boys and Girls High School, and participating in the first phase of a comprehensive foreclosure and mortgage restructuring program presented by NACA, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.
So intent were these families to be part of the program, many actually started arriving at 7:00 AM. The temperature was 16 degrees!! Fortunately for them, the Boys and Girls High security and custodial staff did not force them to suffer outside, but let them in to wait in the warmth of the auditorium.
In mid-December 2009 NACA brought their Save the Dream Team to the Javits Center for five days. They had more than 300 counselors and 80 banks on hand for instant remedies from the oppressively exorbitant mortgages, threats of foreclosure.
The Brooklyn event provided opportunity for registration and information for those who missed being serviced at Javits. Bruce Marks, founder and CEO of NACA realized that a great many New Yorkers had missed out, and extended the program to local communities in Brooklyn and Queens. Both workshops ran concurrently.
The mandatory two-hour workshop that NACA requires their clients to participate in before they provide any service to them, has now opened the door for full service for all those who attended Saturday's workshop.
There was some initial tension among some of the participants at Boys and Girls in reference who was to be served first. However, it was clarified that this was not a competition, that all of the participants were there because they have been ripped off, that turning on each other was not going to resolve the problems. It was going to take an inordinate amount of cooperation to make sure that not only would the toxic mortgages be remedied, but that we have to get through this as a community, as neighbors, not as adversaries. Divide and conquer has been the ruin of so many good intentions. Once the audience agreed to work together, it was truly inspirational to see people who may not have come in as friends, but left that way.
The financial predators who have already put them in this bind will find a different mindset as they go forth to resolve their mortgage problems: to never be victims again, and to always be informed. The spirit of cooperation in Boys and Girls High spoke volumes.
The workshop was led by NACA’s East Coast Regional Director, Ben Codjoe, and Newark, NJ Director, Kerrey Campbell. Cooperation from Boys and Girls High School Principal Bernard Gassaway, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke’s office, Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries, Annette Robinson, Nick Perry, Frank Boyland, Jr. helped get the word out. Rev. Aikens and members from Cornerstone Baptist and Antioch Church assisted in distribution of the manuals.
Participating in NACA’s training is mandatory. NACA is very strict in their formulation of helping people maintain affordable mortgages. Concomitant with their foreclosure prevention program is their home buyer program, which provides first time home buyers with “the best mortgage,” which include free down payment and closing costs, as well as a mortgage that is 1% below the current prime rate. But it’s all predicated on an informed and prepared consumer.
The massive turn out also pointed up the need for Brooklyn to have its own NACA center as soon as possible, if not sooner. It is a point that has been discussed on several occasions.
Founder, Bruce Marks, who provides the programs, manuals and services to the community free of charge, has expressed an interest and willingness to open a center in Brooklyn if he can get the space free of charge. It seems only fair, since they are providing a free service, that the space to do it in be available rent free (they will handle the utilities).
Currently the closest NACA center is in Newark New Jersey, in the Robert Treatt Hotel, 50 Park Place (next door to NJPAC). It’s been there for nearly 10 years. Needless to say they are inundated. They are literally handling two states -- New York and New Jersey. There are also three NACA Centers in Connecticut, one in Philadelphia, and one in Washington, DC.
According to Mr. Ben Codjoe, there would definitely be opportunities for training locally based counselors, and people with prior banking and mortgage experience, provided they are willing to learn to work the NACA way. There have been some individuals in the past who applied for positions for ulterior motives, and for that reason were not brought on board. According to Codjoe, “Mr. Marks is very clear and adamant about not circumventing the system. As long as things are done according to the NACA formula, most people's homes can be saved. It‘s when they want to undermine the program that things are derailed. We do not allow that to happen. And because of that we rub some lawyers and bankers the wrong way. But as long as it saves homes, at the end of the day, we‘d rather they be upset with us than the homeowners who are the true victims in this.”
For twenty-two years that NACA has been in existence has been in the service of fighting for those people who have been ripped off by predatory lenders, red lined by banks, or whose mortgages started off low and ended up totally toxic. NACA is a HUD approved non-profit organization, so donation of the office space would be tax deductible. The next event for First Time Homebuyers will be announced shortly.
Back to my previous statement: Brooklyn, and therefore New York, would benefit greatly from a centralized NACA office that would provide the services here that they have so diligently provided throughout the US. If possible, it should be near a subway or within easy commute for all. If you are aware of or have such a space, please feel free to text me at (718) 791-3804, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the interviews with the participants at Boys and Girls High, NACA workshop participants, log on to ON THE SPOT, www.onthespot.com. For further detailed information on NACA, log on to www.naca.com.
As new events are brought to the community, you can also check out this blog, gloria-dulan-Wilson.blogspot.com. Make sure you spread the word and keep the knowledge going and growing.
Stay Blessed &