BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Since the foreclosure crisis struck the nation in 2008, Southeast Queens has continued to be the hardest hit area in all of New York City.
According to Matthew Hassett, director of policy and communications for the Center For New York City Neighborhoods, a nonprofit that offers free foreclosure prevention services, the Queens neighborhoods of Far Rockaway, Ozone Park, Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens account for the majority of foreclosures in the Borough.
“In the ZIP codes that make up those neighborhoods, there were more than 750 foreclosure filings [from February 2011 to March 2014] in each ZIP code. It’s a very high rate of foreclosures,” he said. “Southeast Queens has consistently one of the hardest hit areas in the City.”
One of the biggest reasons why Southeast Queens continues to get the brunt of the foreclosure crisis, Hassett said, is because it has a much higher rate of home ownership verses rental properties than most of the City.
“There are a lot of more homes there,” he said. “And unfortunately, there was a huge amount of sub-prime and predatory lending there. That has had a devastating effect on the neighborhoods of Southeast Queens.”
Hassett noted that Queens has had the greatest number of foreclosures of all five boroughs, with approximately 6,000 of the City’s 13,700 annual filings.
A recent report released by RealtyTrac suggests that in March, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Queens County was six percent lower than the previous month and 26 percent lower than the same time last year.
The study also suggests that home sales for February 2014 were down 13 percent compared with the previous month, and up three percent with a year ago.
Although Hassett highlighted this recently documented improvement, he does not think Queens, or the City, has bounced back from the recession just quite yet and believes that any analysis of these figures would be premature.
“We saw that in one month, there was significant decline. However, the trend over the last year has shown the rates are steady or rising,” he said. “The economic recovery is still lackluster. People are still having a hard time paying their mortgages and I don’t know that we’re out of the woods yet.”
He also added that CNYCN is concerned with new Federal government policies regarding flood insurance following Superstorm Sandy and what the new policies could potentially mean for New Yorkers.
“We’re also concerned about the impact of the new changes around flood insurance. People in the 100-yard flood plain will see a significant increase in the rates they pay for flood insurance unless they elevate their homes, which is extremely expensive,” he said. “We’re concerned that it might lead to a whole new wave of foreclosures.”
According to Hassett, the north shore of Staten Island and neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn have also historically had higher foreclosure rates than other parts of the City. By contrast, Manhattan, the borough with the least number of family homes, has had the lowest foreclosure rate in all of New York.
To learn more about the free programs CNYCN offers, dial 311 and ask for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods or contact the nonprofit directly at (646) 786-0888. You may also visit their website at www.cnycn.org.
Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.