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City Loans Help Residents Stay In Their Homes

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A city loan program aims to help working class families avoid foreclosure. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.

Willie Colon and his six children moved into their home in West Brighton more than 10 years ago.

But in 2005, Colon was diagnosed with a medical condition that forced him to retire from his state job in security and his involvement in the National Guard.

Before Colon received his retirement benefits, he was put on half pay, which caused him to fall behind on his mortgage payments.

"I notified the bank and I told them, 'Listen, I have the money but I cannot pay the balance that I owe, that I fell behind,' which is, like, $50,000."

Colon tried to modify his mortgage but was denied by his bank. That is when he started receiving foreclosure notices.

"The way I felt, it was like I didn't have no chance," he says. "I figured my house was gone."

Colon turned to Staten Island Legal services, which told him he qualified for a Mortgage Assistance Program or MAP loan.

"A lot of the people we have funded so far are firemen, nurses, livery cab drivers," says Christie Peale, the executive director for the Center For NYC Neighborhoods. "These are people who are, on average, making between $50,000 and $60,000 per year. They're struggling to make mortgage payments that are usually pretty high."

So far, more than $1.3 million in MAP loans have helped homeowners like Colon throughout the city. But officials hope more homeowners in need take advantage of the program.

"The people that we work with are the people who are already making sacrifices," Peale says. "They are doing the right thing. They have made cuts as best they can and they have been trying to work with their bank and it just hasn't been working out."

Peale says the city has helped more than 60 families since they started the program last year. On average, monthly mortgage payments are reduced by $750.

It's something that has kept Colon in his home.

"I always wanted to own a property of the city of New York and I have it and I didn't lose it, thank God," he says. "I am still here. I am happy. I just hope I live here forever."

To see if you qualify for a MAP loan, call 311 or log onto cnycn.org/map.

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