New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Monday a new initiative that will temporarily relieve homeowners at risk of foreclosure of past-due water and sewer debt.
Homeowners at risk of foreclosure whose properties are also on the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) 90-day lien sale warning list can apply for the Water Debt Assistance Program. If the homeowner qualifies, the DEP will remove their property from the upcoming May 10 lien sale and defer their outstanding debt until the property is sold, refinanced or the owner has the ability to pay the debt. Homeowners would be required to pay all subsequent water bills on time to remain in the program.
In addition to being removed from the upcoming water lien sale, homeowners who enroll in the program will be relieved of the 5% initial surcharge and 18% annual interest that accrues on water debt once a lien sale is finalized.
‘By putting a temporary freeze on water and sewer debts, and not assessing any interest on those unpaid debts, we're offering a financial lifeline to many homeowners that need help now more than ever," Bloomberg said Monday. "We're taking the immediate pressure off one front in their struggle, and in many cases, that will then help them get back on their feet and stay in their homes."
The 2010 90-day warning list for lien sales was published on Feb. 2 and includes nearly 12,000 properties with outstanding water and sewer debt. Properties must have more than $1,000 in overdue water bills, outstanding for at least a year, to be placed on the lien sale list. Approximately 2,000 homeowners may qualify for the Water Debt Assistance Program.