Some elected officials and several non-profits in Queens are taking part in a new initiative aimed at helping homeowners get out of foreclosure and increasing affordable housing.
Under the "Foreclosure Buyback Pilot Program," non-profits can buy back distressed mortgages from federal government entities such as Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac, giving families the opportunity to refinance with the organization and stay in their homes.
If that's not possible, local non-profits or municipalities can bid on the distressed properties and then convert them into affordable housing.
Previously, only private equity and hedge funds could purchase these properties.
"They know our communities, and we want to ensure that no hedge funds had hands in these loans, but people who would have interest that our communities are built up, would actually get their hands on these loans, and put it back out and keep people in their homes," said City Councilor Donovan Richards of Queens.
Councilors I. Daneek Miller, Ruben Wills, and Richards are involved in the program and say it is the first of its kind in the nation.
Since the pilot program launched earlier this month, the city has purchased 24 distressed mortgages, including six in Jamaica, Queens.
Officials say that of the foreclosures in city over the last few years, about 30 percent are in Southeast Queens.
They added that since the housing bubble of 2008, Southeast Queens has become of one of the largest communities in the country where families are facing foreclosure.