Queens Cries For Bailout Help Too
By SASHA AUSTRIE
In increments, accompanied by sharp whistle bursts, a small group of demonstrators chanted “Bailout Main Street, not Just Wall Street” in front of the Queens County Civil Court on Sutphin Boulevard. Here, some of their homes stood on the auction block and others were in fear that they would be next.
Joslyn Voltaire, a Queens Village resident has surpassed foreclosure. Her home was put up for auction two weeks ago.
“I’m not going [anywhere,]” she said. “This is my dream place.”
Voltaire said she has lived in her home for two decades and refinanced her mortgage to pay for her son’s college education. She said her mortgage skyrocketed from $800 a month to in excess of $3,500 in a matter of months.
“I’ve been living my home 21 years, not 21 days or 21 months,” Voltaire said. “Something has to be done. There has to be a bailout of [Main Street].”
According to the Real Deal, a real estate magazine, foreclosures have risen 60 percent citywide. There were more than 1,000 foreclosures throughout the five boroughs, with Queens leading the way.
According to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, since November of last year, 4,217 homes were foreclosed in Queens and 526 homes have been slated for October 2008 as of Oct. 27. A representative from ACORN said that on average there are about 101 auctions a week.
A demonstrator, Joanne participated with her daughter perched on her shoulder. She said she isn’t currently facing foreclosures, but she saw the result.
“It hurts because neighbors become families,” she said. “I wanted to come with [my daughter] to show that you do not put out one person, but a family.”
According to Joanne, on her street in Laurelton, there are six houses currently facing foreclosures. She contends that the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which was passed into law in early October “makes her feel unimportant.”
“They should start with us,” she said of the rescue plan. She said she has a mortgage payment of $2,800, but if she is late it escalates to $5,900. To keep her home, she said she had to borrow from friends and family.
Rico Lunaban, a Bellerose resident said he is facing the possibility of losing his home. He lived in his home with his family for 20 years and refinanced eight years ago because of a business venture that went sour. He bought his house for $160,000. Now, Lunaban owes more than half a million dollars.
“I was given a subprime loan,” he said. “No one told me my principle would go up.”
Unlike the other demonstrators, Helen Rice-Lyles came to her house by happenstance. She was living in a homeless shelter and her chance to grab onto the American dream was within reach.
“I got a call,” she said. “Would you like to buy a home? No money down, good credit, bad credit.”
“I was happy to get my own American dream,” Rice-Lyles said. She’s barely lived in the home a year, but she’s already facing foreclosure. According to Rice-Lyles, upon closing she was told her monthly payments would be $1,990. Months later, bills of $5,000 started arriving.
“I’m trying to fight to stay in my home,” she said.