NJ Assembly Looks Into Unspent Foreclosure Funds

The New Jersey Assembly held hearings Wednesday on the Christie administration's programs to reduce foreclosures in the state. The hearings focused on $300 million in aid from the federal government that was intended to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

The Garden State is second to Florida in highest percentage of homes in foreclosure in the country. The government’s HomeKeeper Program, which provides deferred payment, zero-interest loans to help homeowners in trouble, made only 56 loans by last January and distributed a fraction of the federal grant.

But New Jersey Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable told the Assembly panel the agency has recently added staff, improved management and made it easier to qualify for a loan through the program.

But Staci Berger of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey testified that the state lags behind most other in reducing foreclosures — and responsibility for that failure lies directly with Gov. Christie.

“We need our governor to spend more time paying attention to this,” Berger said. “It is inexcusable, in my mind, for someone to sit here and say the governor was unaware that $300 million from the federal government was being not well spent.”