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Future of New Jersey homeowner aid programs uncertain

New Jersey remains one of the hardest-hit states when it comes to home foreclosures. Nearly 68,000 properties are currently in foreclosure. In every month since Sept. 2015, our state has ranked first or second in the number of foreclosures filed.

The foreclosure crisis began in New Jersey, as it did throughout the country, when the housing bubble burst a decade ago. Some newer legal rulings and economic problems have contributed to the problem. Of course, Hurricane Sandy also added to the "perfect storm of issues" faced by New Jersey homeowners, as an executive with one foreclosure tracking company put it.

Now comes the news two state programs set up to help homeowners facing imminent foreclosure stopped accepting applications for assistance as of December 15. According to a spokesperson for New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs, "The agency wants to ensure that there is enough funding to process all applications that are currently in process."

The two programs impacted are HomeSaver and HomeKeeper. Both were set up as part of the Hardest Hit Fund, established in 2010. The fund is supported with federal money that goes to New Jersey and other states hardest hit by the recession and other economic factors.

These two New Jersey programs provide homeowners with up to $50,000 in aid to help cover mortgage payments when they are facing financial hardships or help with refinancing or modification of their mortgages.

So far, the HomeSaver program has provided over $13 million to over 840 families. The HomeKeeper program has given almost $282 million to over 7,000 families. That's according to the Department of Community Affairs.

If and when the programs will resume accepting applications is not certain. The Hardest Hit Fund has reportedly nearly depleted its resources. Further, a report last year by a Treasury Department watchdog agency found that the fund had "significant inefficiencies."

If you're facing foreclosure, it's essential to find out what your options are. An experienced New Jersey attorney can provide valuable guidance.

Source: The Inquirer, "N.J. stops taking applications for programs offering foreclosure relief," Caitlin McCabe, Dec. 29, 2017

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