Local Talk News

Anti-Foreclosure Seminar Informs Essex Residents

Local Talk News — Wednesday, May 28, 2008

By Walter Elliott

EAST ORANGE: Had one entered the Cicely Tyson School of Fine and Performing Arts during the Housing Challenges and Opportunities Symposium there May 17, two slogans would have likely greeted the visitor.

The first slogan was found on the left hand side plaque unveiled when the Davey School officially changed its name in Tyson's honor in 1995. That quote in bronze from the actress is: "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice."

The second slogan was seen about the Tyson school main hallway and auditorium during the three-hour presentation. That saying, on several organizers wearing orange t-shirts was: "Nothing is worse than doing nothing."

That homeowners and renters in East Orange and neighboring municipalities can respond to the national subprime mortgage and foreclosure crisis is the message City of East Orange and Rutgers University Joseph C. Comwall Center for Metropolitan Studies intended May 17.

Some of the estimated 65 people attending the conference who brought their concems and documents to the school listened to keynote speakers Dr. Stephanie R. Bush-Baskette and Gail D. Davis. BushBaskette, of Rutgers Cornwall Center, gave an overview on sub-prime mortgages. Davis, a HUD-certified housing counselor with the Tri-City Peoples Corporation, presented foreclosure prevention and intervention resources.

The attendees, after also listening to Mayor Robert Bowser's welcome and a scheduled talk from a New Jersey Citizen Action representative about tenants' rights during foreclosure, returned to the main hallway. They were able to discuss their particular situation across tables with Tri-City, Brand New Day, East Orange Office of Emergency Management and other symposium partners.

"Housing Challenges and Opportunities Symposium: Sub=Prime Mortgages & Foreclosure Prevention, Intervention and Education," has a familiar look among its personnel for a reason. Some of the organizers were among the participants tearing down illegal signs of suspected predator foreclosure refinancing operations in East Orange, Newark, Orange and Irvington neighborhoods April 5.

Members of the Newark/Urban Essex Foreclosure Taskforce organized the symposium and the teardown. The former is part ofa continuing education. Tri-City, Cornwall Center, the City of East Orange and NJCA are among the taskforce's partners.

Brand New Day is more than providing foreclosure resources. It is about to announce groundbreaking dates for affordable housing in East Orange and its home city of Elizabeth.

East Orange's OEM considers foreclosure as great a household disaster as a physical catastrophe. It's representative talked about homeowners and renters' insurance options as well as real estate document preservation.

"There are a lot of people asking a lot of questions," said Tri-City counselor Ben Ajuloi. "They want to learn how to save their homes."

Tri-City, among its other services, provides HUD-approved counseling and utility assistance.

East Orange Third Ward Councilman Theodore "Ted" Green and property owner David Wallace were among those attending.

"I had a home in Newark and now have property in East Orange," said Wallace. "The advice given here is very helpful."

The Cornwall Center has meanwhile scheduled "Understanding and Addressing the Sub-Prime Mortgage Situation" conference for June 10. The RSVP conference is to run 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. in Rutgers-Newark's Paul Robeson Student Center.

Those wanting to know when a second area symposium will be scheduled are to contact foreclosuretaskforce@ci.newark.nj.us or (973) 266-5411.

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