Five banks have agreed to pay $25 billion to 49 states in response to their alleged deceit on foreclosures, and the cash will be used to help homeowners, including one Queens man who desperately needs the help. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.
A home is supposed to be a refuge, but for Durrant McKie, it's a burden.
"It's been hard. It's been tough. It's a struggle," said McKie.
Tough circumstances have forced him to miss a year's mortgage payments, but the 55-year old Queens man can't sell. He is what's called “underwater.”
"The statement from the city says it's worth $240,000, and what I owe on it is over $335,000,” said McKie.
On Thursday, word came that some relief may be on its way for up to two million Americans rocked by the burst housing bubble.
The nation's largest mortgage providers will pay homeowners in every state but Oklahoma, resolving allegations of foreclosure abuse.
"We are using this opportunity to fix a broken system and to lay the groundwork for a better future," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Financial shares were mixed, but some cheered the settlement as an end to months-long ambiguity.
Still, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stressed the deal doesn't hamstring him from hitting banks with other mortgage-related charges.
"We have preserved our rights to go after all criminal and civil liability that created the housing bubble and crash in the first place," said Schneiderman.
That right was a key reason why Schneiderman held out, delaying a deal by months and giving him national exposure.
President Barack Obama trumpeted the bipartisan breakthrough.
"We can't wait to get things done and to provide relief to America's homeowners. We need to do everything we can to help homeowners and our economy," said Obama.
Statewide, six percent of borrowers are like McKie: underwater. It's particularly a problem in Southeast Queens and in parts of the Rockaways, where sometimes the effects of the housing crisis are hard to miss.
McKie could qualify for about $1,100, which is a start.
After learning of the settlement on NY1, he called Schneiderman's office.
"Help is going to come through,” said McKie. “I'm hopeful for that."