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Public Forum: Strategies for Coping with Property Tax Shock - November 6, 2016
PROGRAM

Introduction & Welcome
Constance M. Kehoe, Deputy Mayor, Village of Irvington
Program Moderator:   Karen Schatzel

Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages
John Baker, Westchester Residential Opportunities

Property Tax Exemptions & Grievance Procedures
John Wolham, NY State Office of Real Property Tax Ser vices

Generating Income From Your Home:  Boarders, Accessory & In-Law Apartments:   Janice Silverberg, Trustee, Village of Irvington

Questions and Answers:   Concluding at 3PM

John Baker is the Director, Senior Housing Program at Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc.  (WRO) a non-profit organization located in White Plains, NY.  In this capacity he oversees the implementation of all aspects of WRO’s senior housing program including senior housing counseling, education and outreach initiatives and the reverse mortgage counseling program.  Prior to coming to WRO, John worked at several national nonprofit civil rights organizations.    Contact: or 914-428-4507 ext. 313. WRO, 470 Mamaroneck Ave, Suite 410, White Plains NY 10605 www.wroinc.org 
            
John Wolham has served as Regional Director of the Southern Region of the Office of Real Property Services for 12 years, and with NYSDTF-ORPTS and its predecessors for over 32 years. Prior to that he worked in an Assessor’s Office. Contact: or 
914-215-6242. N. Y. State Department of Taxation & Finance, N.Y. State Department of Taxation & Finance Office of Real Property Tax Services, 44 S. Broadway, 6th fl., White Plains, NY 10601-4425 ; www.tax.ny.gov 

Janice Silverberg is a Village of Irvington Trustee, and, prior to her election to the Board in 2015, chaired the Irvington Housing Committee.  


This program is designed to present information of a general nature; it is not intended to comment on particular situations.  The material presented is not legal advice and should not be relied on to suggest a particular course of action or guarantee outcomes.


COPING WITH TAX SHOCK SEMINAR
In November 2016, a special seminar was held at the Irvington Public Library entitled "Coping with Tax Shock".   To view a video of that seminar, click here.



GENERATING INCOME FROM YOUR HOME (Presentation by Janice Silverberg)

1.  BOARDERS

-          Village Code Chap 224, Article IV, sec. 224-8 lists “renting out of not more than one room” as a permitted use in SFH

-          Contacts:

                        EF: Danielle Furfaro,  .

                        Mercy College: Jason Alt, Ass’t Dean of Students, .

2. IN LAW APARTMENTS (local law #6 of 2016)

-          separate living area within SFH, may include kitchen

-          designated for use by family member or care-giver(s) and family; family broadly defined as related by “blood, marriage or adoption.”

-          must be an unobstructed passageway between the apartment and the main residence; water, sewer and electric facilities must be shared

-          no exterior changes that alter character/appearance of neighborhood      

-          the owner may occupy the primary residence or the apartment

-          In law apartment must be registered with the Village; registration requires inspection and payment of $50 fee.

3. ACCESSORY APARTMENTS (Article XXXI, sec. 224-201)

-          separate dwelling unit, which can be located in the principle dwelling or outbuilding; maximum of two bedrooms.

-          owner may occupy either main house or accessory apartment

-          no exterior changes that affect character/appearance of neighborhood

-          must comply with NY State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code

-          requires application, professional site plan, and inspection;

-          Planning Board approval required; $250 application, $100 renewal.


COMMON PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS (Presentation by John Wolham, chart prepared by Deborah Flock)

EXEMPTION NAME:

BASIC STAR CREDIT (CURRENT STAR PROPERTY TAX RELIEF PROGRAM; FORMER STAR EXEMPTION PROGRAM CLOSED TO NEW APPLICANTS)

Applicable to:

School Tax

Eligibility requirements:

Owner-Occupied Primary Residence

Income limitations:

$500,000 Combined incomes of  owner(s) & spouse(s) who reside at the property;  Eligibility in 2017 is based on 2015

Filing location:

New Applicants: NYS Dept of Taxation & Finance - online (www.tax.ny.gov/star) or by phone (518) 457-2036

Filing deadline:

New Applications are accepted for three years from the tax filing deadline for the year the credit covers (For ex., to claim credit for 2016, you must register by April 15, 2020)

Application forms:

New STAR Credit application - Online or by Phone only

EXEMPTION NAME:

ENHANCED STAR CREDIT

Applicable to:

School Tax

Eligibility requirements:

Owner-Occupied, Primary Residence where owner, spouse or sibling (residing in house) must be 65 by Dec. 31

Income limitations:

2017: $86,000  (All owners and any owner's spouse who resides at the property)  Eligibility in 2017 is based on 2015 income

Filing location:

New Applicants: Same as Basic STAR;        Upgrade from Basic to Enhanced STAR:  Greenburgh Tax Assessor's Office*

Filing deadline:

New Applicants: Same as Basic STAR;  Upgrade from Basic to Enhanced STAR:  May 1

Application forms:

New STAR Enhanced Credit: Same as Basic STAR;  Upgrade from Basic:  RP-425-E

 

EXEMPTION NAME:

SENIOR CITIZEN ** (SEE NOTE)

Applicable to:

School, Village, Town and County Taxes

Eligibility requirements:

Owner-Occupied Primary Residence; all owners must be 65 or older, unless owners are husband and wife or siblings (in which case one must be 65 or older) 

Income limitations:

Combined income of $36,400 in preceding income tax year

Filing location:

Greenburgh Assessor's Office*

Filing deadline:

1-May

Application forms:

RP-467

EXEMPTION NAME:

VETERAN'S

Applicable to:

Village, Town and County Taxes

Eligibility requirements:

Owner-Occupied Primary Residence of Veteran (Alternative and Cold War only); Proof of Honorable Discharge

Income limitations:

None

Filing location:

Greenburgh Assessor's Office*

Filing deadline:

1-May

Application forms:

Documentation of Military Service (per NYS list) and one of the following:

EXEMPTION NAME:

ALTERNATIVE

Applicable to:

Eligibility requirements:

Service during War or recipient of an expeditionary medal

Income limitations:

Filing location:

Filing deadline:

Application forms:

RP-458-a

EXEMPTION NAME:

COLD WAR

Applicable to:

Eligibility requirements:

Service during Peacetime

Income limitations:

Filing location:

Filing deadline:

Application forms:

RP-458-b

EXEMPTION NAME:

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND LIMITED INCOMES ** (SEE NOTE)

Applicable to:

School, Village, Town and  County Taxes

Eligibility requirements:

Legal Residence of person with documented evidence of a disability

Income limitations:

Combined income of $36,400 in preceding income tax year

Filing location:

Greenburgh Assessor's Office*

Filing deadline:

1-May

Application forms:

RP-459-c

EXEMPTION NAME:

FIRE AND AMBULANCE VOLUNTEERS

Applicable to:

Village Taxes

Eligibility requirements:

Primary Residence, Residential Properties Only; Requires at least 5 years service with local Volunteer Fire Dept. or Ambulance Corp.  Also available to Un-Remarried Surviving Spouse; Requires 20 years service

Income limitations:

None

Filing location:

Greenburgh Assessor's Office*

Filing deadline:

1-May

Application forms:

Documentation of Service and Form RP-466-d

*Greenburgh Assessor’s Office is located at 177 Hillside Avenue, Greenburgh

** Homeowners may not receive both Senior Citizen and Persons with Disabilities Exemption.

Information accurate as of November 6, 2016


FAIR HOUSING (Presentation by John Baker)


Where You Live Is Your Choice

Fair housing laws protect you when you are looking for a place to live and while you are living in your house, co-op, condo, or apartment. WRO works to protect your rights if you live, or are looking for a place to live, in Westchester, Rockland, or Putnam counties in New York.

Know Your Fair Housing Rights

In New York State  you are protected against housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex or gender, age, disability, marital status, family status (having children under 18), sexual orientation, or military status. These categories are known as “protected classes.” In Westchester County, it is also unlawful to discriminate based on alienage or citizenship; status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking; and source of income. Under federal law, people with disabilities have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodations and modifications from their housing provider, so they may fully use and enjoy their homes. In addition, under the Fair Housing Act, new multifamily housing must be designed and constructed in accordance with seven accessibility requirements.

Fair Housing Means...

Fair housing means an equal opportunity to live in the housing that you desire and can afford. Fair housing means that houses, apartments, co-ops, and condos must be made available under the same terms and conditions for all financially qualified applicants. Everyone is entitled to seek housing in every neighborhood, and similar information must be provided to all home seekers. Fair housing and fair lending laws apply to the actions of all people involved in real estate transactions. Real estate brokers and agents, property managers, mortgage lenders, insurers, advertisers, appraisers, and inspectors are required to treat all consumers equally. If you have been, or believe you have been, the victim of unlawful housing discrimination, please contact Nancy King at 914-428-4507, ext. 341 for assistance.

What WRO Does

WRO responds to complaints of housing discrimination by investigating, negotiating, mediating, and, when necessary, litigating with the aid of a panel of cooperating attorneys. WRO often conducts investigations by testing to uncover discrimination that may otherwise go undetected. Complaints may come from home seekers, tenants, real estate professionals, or advocates, particularly those working with immigrant communities and people with disabilities. If a formal complaint seems necessary, WRO can help those impacted by housing discrimination seek redress in an appropriate forum, including local human rights commissions, the New York State Division of Human Rights, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or state or federal court.

Educates Consumers

Fair housing education for the general public is offered at various workshops, home buying expos, and other countywide events. Workshops are developed to educate renters about their rights and responsibilities, to teach basic financial literacy and to aid prospective home buyers in their housing search. We also educate consumers about predatory lending practices and current scams to be avoided. Any group interested in hosting a workshop or having a training session tailored to their members’ particular needs should contact the Fair Housing Department at 914-428-4507.

Trains Housing Professionals, Officials, and Boards

We are also available to train real estate agents, advocates, municipal officials, planners, other housing professionals, co-op boards, and condominium associations on their fair housing obligations as well as the rights of their clients and residents. Seminars are held for staff at nonprofit agencies throughout Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. We also create programs on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) for municipal officials and the public about fair housing responsibilities under federal law. Our agency offers consultation on fair housing issues: feel free to call us at 914-428-4507 with specific questions or to arrange a workshop for your group.

Panel of Cooperating Attorneys

WRO and its clients benefit from the involvement of attorneys who lend their expertise to WRO’s fair housing program to advance civil rights and expand housing opportunities for all. The panel meets quarterly to brainstorm about local housing issues, share knowledge about federal and state law, discuss complaints received by WRO, and recommend approaches for complaint resolution by testing, negotiating, mediating, or litigating as appropriate. Seasoned fair housing attorneys offer their support and mentoring skills to other lawyers interested in expanding their knowledge of fair housing law. If you are an attorney and are interested in contributing to WRO’s important work, please call Marlene Zarfes at 914-428-4507, ext. 306.


MORTGAGE DEFAULT PREVENTION COUNSELING (Presentation by John Baker)
 

WRO is a not-for-profit agency that has been providing free mortgage default prevention counseling for more than 15 years. WRO is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency.

WRO may be able to help you prevent foreclosure through the counseling we offer at no cost to residents of Westchester County. WRO can explain the various options that may help you keep your home through a loan modification with your servicing company. We offer guidance on the Federal Making Home Affordable® (MHA) Program, as well as on in-house modifications, which are also offered by servicing companies. By reviewing your financial documents and servicing forms, we can establish a workout plan suitable for the particular financial hardship you are experiencing.

We also intervene as a mortgage default counselor on behalf of homeowners by attending settlement conferences in Westchester County court for WRO clients. Transitioning counseling is also available for homeowners seeking alternatives to foreclosure prevention, such as deed in lieu and short sales. If you are more than 30 days delinquent on your mortgage, please go to the above link to download the Intake Application and start today to get help.

Intake Application (Everyone must complete and bring this!)

Making Home Affordable Form (Everyone must complete and bring this!)

Fannie Freddie 710 Form(Those with a Fannie or Freddie Mac loan must complete this form in addition to the Intake Application.)

You should bring a completed application and all supporting documents with you when you attend a Wednesday orientation session. Please note: Bring copies of the required documents, NOT your originals!  


ORIENTATION SESSIONS

In order for us to work with you, you must first attend an orientation session. These sessions provide an overview of our counseling program and introduce homeowners to potential options. You will have an opportunity to talk with a counselor and hear what the mortgage industry is saying during this time of crisis.

Dates: Every Wednesday except those in weeks with holidays (call to confirm dates)

Times: 10:00 am or 6:00 p.m.

Location: Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc.

470 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 410

White Plains NY 10605

Register: By phone: 914-428-4507 ext. 334; email: 

Please bring COPIES of all original documents with your completed intake application to the orientation.  

Questions? Call us at 914-428-4507 ext. 334 or the Department's hotline at 877-WRO-4YOU.


SENIOR HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (Presentation by John Baker)

Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO) offers a comprehensive housing counseling program to residents of Westchester County who are age sixty (60) and over. WRO’s Senior Housing Program provides counseling services on a one-to-one basis in either English or Spanish. The goal of each counseling session is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the clients’ needs in order to attempt to address issues or obstacles related to either acquiring or keeping housing. 

All services are by appointment.

WRO’s services are comprised of the following program areas:

The Senior Housing Assistance Program
One of the main functions of WRO’s Senior Housing Program is to guide Westchester seniors through the process of finding subsidized rental apartments. Through cooperating programs, WRO can sometimes assist seniors who experience other difficulties related to securing or keeping housing such as rent arrears, moving expenses, security deposit shortfalls, or termination of utility services. WRO’s counselors can provide seniors with information about accessing other types of housing assistance such as acquiring a Section 8 Voucher, applying for the New York State Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE), and options for accessing information on senior facilities for independent and assisted living throughout Westchester County. The Senior Housing Program also assists  seniors in identifying and applying for other legal entitlements for which they may be eligible, but might not be claiming,  such as the SNAP Program (that is, food stamps), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program for Home Care, and many other federal, state, and local benefits.Please click on the link above to find listings of senior subsidized rental housing and independent and assisted living buildings in Westchester County.

Project Share
The waiting lists for subsidized senior rental housing in Westchester County can be long, and other options for senior housing can be prohibitively expensive for some seniors.  WRO’s Project Share matches up senior homeowners in Westchester County who are age sixty (60) and above, with housing seekers who may be looking for a more affordable housing alternative than a stand-alone apartment rental.  Housing can be the largest monthly expenditure for seniors, and such a large expenditure each month can be particularly burdensome for low-income seniors.  A shared housing alternative could help to alleviate housing costs for the home seeker and potential home provider in a number of ways such as:

  • Increasing independence for the home provider through a service exchange with the home seeker, such as sharing household chores and/or grocery shopping for
  • Increasing security, providing companionship and health benefits for both parties.
  • Supplementing income for senior homeowners through monthly payments provided by housing seekers.
  • Affording housing seekers an alternative, more affordable housing opportunity than the traditional rental market.

    WRO’s Project Share was featured in The New York Times; please click the link below to read the article and to view the short film about two of Project Share’s clients.  "My House Our Home"

Reverse Mortgage (also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM) Counseling Program
WRO’s HUD approved HECM Counselors provide counseling for homeowners age 62 or older who may benefit from a Reverse Mortgage (referred to hereafter as a HECM). A HECM allows homeowners to borrow against the accumulated equity in their homes. For seniors who are struggling to live on a fixed income, pay for home improvements, pay for home care, or to pay property taxes, a HECM loan may be worth looking into.  A WRO counselor can:

•           Provide objective education on the HECM products currently available and other areas to consider such as current housing situation, property maintenance and the possible need for future supportive services.

•           Describe the process of obtaining a HECM.

•           Determine eligibility for a HECM product.

•           Provide a list of HECM lenders.

For more information on HECMs, please click on the links below to go to The National Council on Aging's educational booklet about HECMs titled, "Using Your Home to Stay at Home." Available in both English and Spanish versions.

Property Tax Foreclosure Counseling
Although there are government programs that help with mortgage default, they don’t assist homeowners in property tax default. WRO is the only housing agency in Westchester that conducts property tax foreclosure counseling. Seniors are more likely to fall into property tax foreclosure than younger homeowners for a variety of reasons, including loss of a spouse, incapacity, or declining income. Many seniors who are behind on taxes don’t realize they could lose their home and all of their equity to property tax foreclosure. WRO offers free property tax foreclosure counseling to seniors, helping senior homeowners negotiate with their local municipalities to remain in their homes and to retain their equity whenever possible. If through counseling, it is determined that the house may no longer be affordable for the homeowner, WRO can guide the senior through the process of selling the home and transitioning into rental housing. Additionally, WRO works with seniors to identify tax exemptions such as Enhanced STAR and the Veteran’s Exemption that they may be eligible for but are not claiming.  For more information on WRO’s Property Tax Foreclosure Counseling Program, please watch the public service announcement below.


WESTCHESTER RESIDENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES
Main Office:
Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc.
470 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel : 914-428-4507
Fax: 914-428-9455


Mount Vernon Office:
Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc.
The Dole Center

250 S. 6th Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
Tel : 914-665-2447

  

Senior Housing:
John Baker
Senior Housing and Reverse Mortgage Counselor Ext. 313

Esperanza Marte-Pina


OTHER IMPORTANT LINKS

Greenburgh Assessors Office - Documents and Forms:
http://www.greenburghny.com/Cit-e-Access/formcenter/index.cfm?TID=10&DID=426

NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance - Property Taxes and Assessments: https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/default.htm

John Wolham, NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services(ORPTS):

John Baker, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc.:

Janice Silverberg, Village of Irvington Trustee: