Today’s news:

Chhaya targets new buyers

Chhaya Community Development Corp., a Jackson Heights nonprofit aimed at serving the South Asian community, is holding a Home Buyer Fair this weekend.

The fair, which is co-sponsored by City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), was scheduled for Saturday from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at PS 69 at 77-02 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights. Afreen Alam, deputy director of Chhaya CDC, said this is the second of what is planned to be an annual event for the nonprofit and will bring together lenders, inspectors, appraisers, real estate attorneys and insurance agents in two panels to talk to potential home buyers.

“Homeownership is still one of the No. 1 ways to build savings and assets, so we don’t want to have people locked out of our community,” said Seema Agnani, executive director of Chhaya CDC.

Recent statistics from the website realtytrac.com said that one in every 8,742 housing units in Jackson Heights received a foreclosure filing in December 2010.

Agnani said the Home Buyer Fair was started in response to poor lending practices that were found to have occurred in the community since the foreclosure crisis. She said the fair wants to teach potential buyers which homes are safe to buy, whether purchase plans fall within their means and information about home loans.

“It’s not just buying a home, it’s also being able to afford it,” said Mamta Gurung, home ownership program manager for Chhaya CDC.

Alam said at the workshop potential buyers will also be able to talk to lenders offering commercial real estate loans that are tailored to buyers in the low-to-moderate income range.

Gurung said the fair is meant to complement Chhaya CDC’s free workshops, given in conjunction with the Queens Library, on the basics of homeownership. More than 200 potential buyers have gone through the counseling program either for education on buying a home or foreclosure counseling.

While people of all ethnic backgrounds are invited to the event, Dromm said the event is targeting the South Asian community in Queens, which is often underserved.

“It’s a community we’re focusing on because they’re new Americans,” Dromm said.

Agnani said Chhaya CDC is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-certified housing organization. The staff speaks Bangla, Hindi, Nepali and Urdu. Its offices are at 37-43 77th St., 2nd Floor in Jackson Heights and its website is chhayacdc.org.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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