Mortgage crisis hits landlords, tenants

July 20, 2009 2:57:47 PM PDT
We've seen homeowners walk away from their homes. Now in this bad economy some landlords are walking away from their buildings, leaving their tenants behind.

It's especially hard for people living in affordable housing.

In one apartment that we visited in the Bronx, mold covers the bathroom walls and, down the hallway, paint is chipping in the room where a four-day-old baby sleeps.

It's a similar story for the more than 300 others living here.

"I call them to tell them and they do nothing," Karen Gomez said.

The "they" she is referring to is the former owner, Ocelot Capital Group, who abandoned the property on East 175th street about a year ago, leaving tenants to fend for themselves.

Senator Charles Schumer says it all began with what he calls predatory equity.

Fannie Mae guaranteed an over-leveraged mortgage to Ocelot, which had planned to raise rents, in turn running tenants out.

The plan fell apart, and Fannie Mae ended up buying back the loan.

"While the mortgage theses owners applied for did not meet Fannie Mae's underwriting standards, it still went ahead and gave them a mortgage," Sen. Schumer said.

Officials say what's happening here is just a snapshot of a much larger picture. Some 90-thousand other rent stabilized apartments citywide are in the same situation.

"We are not Wall Street. You don't come here to try and make money off our backs. These are human beings," Congressman Jose Serrano said.

Children are afraid of the rats that run through this building, which is filled with what the city considers emergency violations.

Fannie Mae was going to put the original mortgage up for auction, possibly setting up a repeat scenario but today indicated it will work with officials.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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