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Brooklyn facing backlog of foreclosures

Living in Brooklyn, you may have been front and center to the housing crisis that began in 2005 to 2006. You may have struggled to pay your bills or watched as loved ones lost their homes. In early 2016, a report about the Brooklyn Supreme Court showed how pertinent foreclosure information is for those in Brooklyn today, even as the recovery continues.

In January 2016, the administrative judge in Kings County's civil division consolidated close to 12,000 cases of pending foreclosures, doling them out to only three judges in Brooklyn. These three judges now handle around a third of all civil cases in the New York state courts. Yes, foreclosures make up a third of civil cases, showing that they are still very much a concern for citizens there.

In 2015, 41,000 foreclosures filed in the state headed to court. Compared to the financial collapse's height in 2009, those numbers aren't good. In 2009, 47,000 foreclosures were filed. Over 60 percent of all foreclosure cases in the state come out of just four downstate counties, two of which include Queens and Brooklyn.

As someone who may be facing foreclosure, this means that your case could take many months or even years to get through the system. With such a heavy backlog, judges were hearing around 100 cases a day in 2016.

The primary judge claimed he would like to make a decision on all motions within two weeks of them being filed, but that rapid approach to foreclosure can be detrimental. It can mean rushing through documents, "rubber stamping" the process to get through cases or even delaying some cases for an exceptional amount of time to get others through the courts quickly.

In previous years, foreclosures came with months or years of delays as judges ruled on each in a special hearing. Some judges did not specialize in foreclosures, so they had other higher-priority cases to attend to that would push back the foreclosure over time. Still, advocates of a more open court system did not appreciate that only three judges handled foreclosures in 2016. Fortunately, at least one more was to be added by 2017.

This approach does streamline the foreclosure process by allowing these four judges to specialize. However, some believe it's far too much like an assembly line without the personal touch expected. For this reason, working with an attorney familiar with the foreclosure process is vital for families in foreclosure. He or she can help guarantee that you are not just another number in the system.

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