In recent years, Americans have been fighting to stay afloat in a struggling economy with weak employment growth. While there is a seemingly endless supply of statistics that either support or refute an improvement in our economy, these statistics may mean very little to the families in New Jersey who are facing the immediate possibility of a foreclosure.
There is no one reason that homeowners struggle with keeping up with mortgage payments. Some people lost their job and have found it very difficult to find a new one. Others were sucked into a risky mortgage agreement that included ballooning payments and fees which were a surprise to borrowers. Still others have gotten sick and are now left with mounting medical bills that they cannot pay.
In 2008, a federal program allocated money to a number of states, including New Jersey. Two years later, our state was given $300 million to support a HomeKeeper program, which was developed to help certain types of homeowners keep their home instead of facing foreclosure. Homeowners that have historically made payments on time but had fallen behind on mortgage payments due to unemployment were offered zero-interest deferred payment mortgage loans up to $48,000.
However, the program has been intensely criticized for the poor management of it, overly strict qualifying requirements and slow application process. Too often, homeowners were denied assistance or the process took so long that by the time their application was processed, it was already too late. Through January of this year, only 56 loans had closed. The goal was initially to approve 250 loans every single month.
Recently, these issues have been addressed. Officials are focusing on streamlining the application process and improving the management of the program so that more New Jersey homeowners can get the relief that they need. The entire process of foreclosure can be confusing and frustrating for most people, and they should not have to try to do it alone. With the help of an experienced attorney, homeowners can make it through this difficult process and fight to keep their home.
Source: CBS News, “NJ Anti-foreclosure aid program being reviewed,” Oct. 24, 2012