How Black Homeowners in Central Brooklyn Can Prevent Deed Theft and Build Generational Wealth


When Jeanique Druses’ uncle died suddenly two years ago, the time her family should have taken to mourn their loss was instead spent fighting for property value, legal ownership and who had the rights. on what…

“Although my uncle had a will, we were unable to locate him for some time and his ownership was disputed,” said Flatbush resident Druses. “It was messy.”

It’s a scenario that’s all too common among Black families who own property — a scenario that, if not addressed properly, has long-lasting impact. To ensure that other local black families don’t lose their homes when passing the keys to the house from one generation to the next, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods is piloting a brand new estate planning program for black homeowners in the downtown Brooklyn.

“There are people who have worked very hard to acquire a home, with the goal of ensuring that their families are taken care of during their passing,” Druses said. Druses leads the regional philanthropic efforts of JP Morgan Chase, which funds the pilot program. “We want that to be the case for more than a select few.”

Jeanique Druse. Photo: Provided by JP Morgan Chase.

Estate planning is necessary for landlords to combat deed theft, a crime that typically involves tricking a landlord into signing forms transferring ownership of a property, under the guise of financial assistance, in the aim to sell it at a huge profit in high demand. housing markets.

Generation 2 Generation will educate local property owners on the importance of estate planning and provide free services that will assist clients in the process of collecting and legalizing all necessary legal documents showing who owns the property and who the deed will be transferred at the end of the holder’s life, along with other assets.

Part of estate planning also includes completing a health power of attorney that confirms who is legally authorized to make health care decisions for the owner, if they are unable to do so themselves.

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods was launched in 2007 and offers a variety of programs that provide vital support and loans to New York City homeowners, which address everything from foreclosure and deed theft to hurricane damage. and direct negotiations with owners’ lenders.

G2G, the Center’s latest program, was created to slow gentrification in central Brooklyn and ensure the next generation of a family can access homeownership, a key source of wealth creation, Sabrina Bazile said. Bazile is the lead program manager for the Black Homeownership Project at the Center.

“Without proper titles and deeds, this is the loophole where predatory actors can take properties from black owners and ultimately widen the racial wealth gap,” said Bazile, who lives in Bed-Stuy.

Black homeownership in New York City has declined over the past 20 years, and Brooklyn alone has 7,000 fewer black homeowners, according to Center for NYC Neighborhoods findings from the past six Housing and vacant homes in New York.

Black homeowner households in New York City, 2002 to 2017. Graph courtesy of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods.

But, Bazile said it’s not because homeowners want to leave — Brooklyn had the most 1-4 unit homes, co-ops and condominium tax liens sold in 2021, according to the Tax Lien Sale. NYC 2021.

“Of course, not every black homeowner is a fight, but that’s just the system built on extraction, predatory scams, and preying on vulnerable black homeowners, like my mom.” Bazile’s mother, who lives in Massachusetts, recently dealt with a contractor who scammed her, she said.

The Center will provide funds and toolkits to organizations that lead estate planning and community outreach services, including the Brooklyn and Bronx divisions of New York City Neighborhood Housing Services, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and Grow Brooklyn.

In Brooklyn, the program will focus on outreach in neighborhoods including Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Bushwick, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, East New York, Canarsie, Brownsville and Coney Island.

During program implementation, Druses and JP Morgan Chase will monitor the impact of the program and make changes to ensure its effectiveness, with a view to national implementation.

“This type of program could be delivered quite widely – this type of small intervention could make a big difference in the lives of New Yorkers and could be implemented elsewhere,” Druses said. “It’s something to learn nationally.”

The program will begin in the fall of 2022, but Bazile said those facing foreclosure or victims of deed theft should contact his Black Homeownership Project team immediately by emailing bhp-engage@cnycn .org or by calling 646-786-0888.


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