State Controller seeks halt to home foreclosures in Puerto Rico

Erin Durkin

New York Daily News

Apr 18, 2018

State Controller Tom DiNapoli is asking the feds to put a year-long halt to home foreclosures in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

In a letter to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, DiNapoli said that a moratorium on foreclosures of federally-insured mortgages — which has been extended by 60 days until May — should be extended by a year.

“It is apparent that the residential mortgage delinquency and foreclosure problems in Puerto Rico, which resulted in large part from the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in late 2017, are unlikely to change significantly during that time,” he wrote of the May 18 deadline.

“Extending that moratorium by one year would allow a more realistic amount of time for property owners to achieve a measure of normalcy that could allow them to resume living in their homes and paying their mortgages.”

Earlier this year, the activist group Hedge Clippers and others asked the controller to halt new investments in private equity firms Blackstone Group and TPG Capital because of their ties to foreclosures in Puerto Rico.

But DiNapoli said the state retirement fund had little control over investment selection in private equity investments.

In letters to the two firms, he thanked Blackstone for urging HUD to do a one-year moratorium and asked TPG to do the same.

“Unfortunately, it is apparent that the crisis will not be resolved in the next 60 days,” he said.

HUD is preparing a response to DiNapoli’s request, a spokesman said. The agency initially imposed a 180-day moratorium on foreclosures and then extended it by another 60 days.