Weekly Feature

2015-09-10 / Front Page

Kearns looks for ‘good neighbors’ in Shame Campaign


In a continuation of the Bank Shame Campaign, Assemblyman Michael Kearns is seeking out good neighbors in the form of individuals and bank representatives to create a summit to discuss possible solutions to incomplete foreclosures.

“This is going to be a comprehensive attempt to get people to the table to address a really difficult problem,” Kearns said.

A large number of incomplete foreclosures have created a housing issue in Western New York, and Kearns wants the national banks responsible to become accountable.

“We have to tell the other side of the story about what’s happening in our communities,” Kearns said.

Kate Lockhart, data commission chairwoman of the Distressed Properties Task Force and paralegal at the Western New York Law Center, said this highlights the confusion found in foreclosures which further delays the process.

“Technically, there are two foreclosures that are filed against the same mortgage, which isn’t even supposed to happen in New York State,” Lockhart said. “I want to emphasize that we are not going to run out of foreclosures to look at.”

She said this shows the severity of the issue found in many suburban neighborhoods.

For this reason, a summit is being planned.

Kearns said the summit is going to be an important formal meeting between government officials, the banking and financial industries, the nonprofit sector and members of the Western New York community.

“We are not doing this summit on behalf of the banks,” Kearns said. “They are not going to control this process.”

According to the assemblyman, a number of national banks have asked him to keep their names private during his campaign.

Members of the local banking community have stepped up to aid the assemblyman and have offered to come forward as supporters and partners in the summit process.

Representative with Evans Bank, Jim Rykowski, said communication, the establishment of information, fact versus fiction and to be a good neighbor are all compelling reasons for the bank partnerships.

Ed Negron, vice president and mortgage sales manager for Citizens Bank, said his interest in the summit comes from putting the community first.

“Part of our credo is community, so we want to be good community partners and also do the right thing,” he said. “I think it’s only going to help bring back our communities and hopefully help increase values, and all those good things that go with homeownership.”

John Morrison, president and CEO of Financial Trust Federal Credit Union, said credit unions don’t typically see a high foreclosure rate due to their personal interest in the members. Despite this fact, he said he is happy to be a part of the discussion.

“We feel the process could be moved along a little faster. There’s has to be some happy medium. We understand the affect on our communities and we want to be a part of the summit,” he said.

Laura Kelly, director of the Old First Ward Community Association, said, as a nonprofit, she is in the people helping business.

Kelly said for someone facing foreclosure, or who is in the process of foreclosure, the best thing they can do is contact the Western New York Law Center.

“When we’re talking about what we’re talking about today, we’re past helping the people who are in the house. We’re helping the home, we’re helping the structure,” Kelly said.

Next week, Kearns will head to Orchard Park to continue his campaign with a new facet — he will be giving out the first of many “Good Neighbor” awards to neighbors who have stepped up to do the work of the banks in maintaining properties.

“There are neighbors out there who are doing the work of the property managers and the banks,” he said.

The Western New York Law Center is located at 237 Main St. in Buffalo. Call 855-0203 or visit www.wnylc.com.

Contact Assemblyman Michael Kearns at 608-6099, or stop by his district office, 1074 Union Road.

email: jwaters@beenews.com

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