A mother struggles to keep her home in the family

Melissa Milan, Ozone Park

Melissa Milan’s four-bedroom, single-family home in Ozone Park has helped to nurture her children’s dreams. It’s where she endured hours of sound systems checks by her son, a DJ for weddings and special events. It’s where her other son, a photographer, had her pose for practice portraits. And it’s where her third child, a daughter, first became interested in a career in architecture. “And yet,” she says, “there is enough space for everyone.”

But in 2015, Melissa’s father passed away, and she began to support her mother financially. She also began experiencing severe pains that led to the discovery of a baseball-sized tumor. While seeking treatment, she was no longer able to work, and had to commit to caring for her health. And just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse, Melissa’s husband, an EMT-turned court officer, died. “This was the worst case scenario, back-to-back,” she explains.

Financially overwhelmed, mourning her husband’s passing, and undergoing medical treatment, Melissa fell behind on her mortgage payments. She tried to work with her mortgage servicer to get a modification, but was denied. Desperate for a solution, she went online and researched mortgage assistance programs through the New York City government’s website, where she came across the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program. Out of curiosity, she filled out the online form, and promptly forgot about it.

A few weeks later, a staff member with the program called to guide her through the application. The ensuing weeks felt like a race between staff with the mortgage assistance program and the foreclosure, all while undergoing cancer treatment. When a representative for the bank came to her front door in March 2017 to serve her family their foreclosure papers, she immediately called her case manager at the NYS-MAP, who reassured her that everything was in order. When she received a court summons to appear in May, her paperwork was processed in time for her to present the judge proof of her $40,000 MAP loan, which brought her mortgage current.

Today, she’s cancer free — and free from anxiety about her mortgage — so Melissa can finally think about other projects that she had ignored. She’s started working full-time again, and is looking forward to finally repairing her roof and her kitchen. She hopes her home will be in good shape for her children to take over ownership of it.

“That’s what is so good about homeownership,” she says, “It’s yours; [and] you can pass it on.”

Have you missed mortgage payments or are behind on property taxes?

The New York State Mortgage Assistance Program may be able to help. Contact us at 855-NYSMAP-3 to learn more.