Government briefs

New York to offer first-time homebuyer tax credit

Governor David Paterson announced last month that New York will offer a federal income tax credit to first-time homebuyers starting in September to encourage home sales. First-time buyers will be eligible to claim a credit equal to 20 percent of their annual mortgage interest costs through the New York State Mortgage Credit Certificate. The credit’s goal is to extend and improve the federal government’s $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which expires on Nov. 30. If a home is purchased before Nov. 30, the credit certificates may be used with the federal $8,000 tax credit.

Cuomo suing foreclosure rescue company

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing foreclosure rescue company American Modification Agency, claiming that the company engaged in deceptive business practices and used false advertisements claiming to help homeowners with underwater loans. Cuomo’s office said the Long Island-based company wrongly charged thousands in illegal fees to unknowing customers wishing to modify their mortgage to avoid foreclosure, Crain’s reported. In addition, the company allegedly failed to obtain loan modifications for the majority of customers and did not include required disclosures and notices in its customer contracts.

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Audit: Department didn’t track affordable units

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development never followed up to see whether developers who got discounts on city land in exchange for building affordable housing actually built those homes, according to the New York Daily News. Under the department’s Cornerstone Program, developers received vacant city-owned land in exchange for building 2,191 residential units on the property, of which 1,510 would be for low- or middle-income residents. But according to an audit by Comptroller William Thompson, released last month, the department did not track how many developments were participating in the program or how many affordable units were built.

Brooklyn, Queens developments get stimulus cash

Downtown Brooklyn and Queens’ Rockaway Point have been tapped to receive millions in stimulus money for developments. The Bloomberg administration granted $20 million for a housing and retail complex, City Point, to be built on the east side of the Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn, and $16 million for a supermarket and shopping mall in Rockaway Point, Queens, the New York Times reported. The projects were chosen because they presented long-term commercial and construction opportunities for the city, according to David Lombino, a spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

Westchester begins ‘historic’ integration effort

Westchester County began work on a watershed desegregation agreement last month. It would require the county to build more low- to middle-income housing and market it to Westchester’s nonwhite communities. The agreement would resolve a lawsuit filed by the Anti-Discrimination Center, which argues that the county’s current demographic layout is tantamount to residential segregation. If the county Board of Regulators ratifies the agreement, Westchester would spend $50 million of its county funds on the development of 750 houses or apartments. Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ron Sims praised the agreement, saying that it was a step forward in holding racially segregated regions accountable for integrating their communities.