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Comptroller to subprime borrowers: Act early

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Thompson, along with several southeast Queens representatives and leaders, held a foreclosure prevention and consumer banking conference at York College in Jamaica Monday night.The comptroller told the crowd of nearly 300 residents, who came from neighborhoods such as Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, that increased knowledge is the key to saving their homes because government agencies can only do so much to help them."It is an issue that continues to grow, but no one has stepped up with a solution. As a city, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. We need to take action," he said.Thompson said his office has been offering residents help through a special hotline, 212-669-4600, and it has already attracted large numbers. The office is currently working on 814 foreclosure cases, with 343 originating in Queens, according to the comptroller.He said the biggest problem among foreclosure victims is that they do not do enough when they see the early effects of a subprime loan. For many, admitting they have a problem is a sign of disgrace within their community."No one wants to admit there is a problem, but there is no shame in taking action," the comptroller said.The three-part seminar aimed to ease homeowners' nerves by holding large group talks by the borough's housing experts on specific areas of the foreclosure crisis. One workshop taught residents how to identify the trustworthy brokers and get preliminary counseling before purchasing a mortgage, another provided tips on how to establish good credit.A third seminar focused on maintaining and protecting one's home by maintaining finances and avoiding unconventional mortgage practices."These seminars make a difference," said St. Albans resident Reonia King. "A lot of people I know are losing their home, and being here is informative."Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who co-hosted the event with fellow councilmen Thomas White (D-Jamaica) and James Sanders (D-Laurelton), encouraged residents to take what they learned and spread it to their friends and neighbors - because if unchecked, the foreclosure rates could triple in the coming years."We have a lot of people connected to the crisis. Hopefully at the end of this seminar we will have a lot of info to give people to give to their community," he said.Despite the organized effort, some residents were skeptical that the subprime situation could be easily remedied."I just feel the whole thing will just continue to transfer funds from the poor to the wealthy," said Jamaica entrepreneur Joseph Carter. "There are desperate people in there trying to find how to save their home."Thompson said he and his office would continue to press on with their initiative and find new ways to educate the public and save their homes."There are tens of thousands of individuals facing foreclosure nationwide and we can't wait to help them," he said.For more information on the subprime loans and Thompson's efforts, visit www.comptroller.nyc.gov or call 212-669-4600.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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