Judiciary Plays Important Role in Foreclosure Program
By Mike Mathis
JT Briefing Editor
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner speaks to the media during a press conference about the state's foreclosure program.
The Judiciary is playing a prominent role in a program to help New Jersey residents at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.
The program, which was piloted in Middlesex County and expanded statewide, connects homeowners with housing counselors and mediators to assist homeowners and lenders in working out agreements to avoid foreclosure.
The program is free.
There were about 48,000 foreclosures in New Jersey last year, and officials predict there could be another 60,000 foreclosures this year.
“(The housing situation) is the spark that created what is an incredible crisis in our economic life,” Gov. Jon Corzine said at a Jan. 9 press conference attended by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and state officials.
“Chief, your people are terrific to take this task on,” Corzine told the chief justice.
Homeowners can take advantage of the mediation program if they are the owner-occupant of a one- to three- family residential property. The property must be in foreclosure, and the homeowner can’t be in bankruptcy.
The foreclosure complaint must have been filed after Jan. 1, 2008.
The Judiciary has trained 500 of the 700 attorneys who volunteered to participate, and about 40 counselors have agreed to work with homeowners in all of the state's 21 counties.
Prior to the press conference, the governor signed legislation that provides $40 million to help prevent residents from losing their homes to foreclosure. The money has been earmarked for a loan program to lower monthly payments and for an initiative that allows non-profit organizations to purchase homes and lease them back to the owners until they can afford to repurchase them.
The program is a partnership between the Judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, Legal Services of New Jersey, the Office of the Public Advocate and the Department of Banking and Insurance.
For more information, call 1-888-989-5277 or visit nj.gov/foreclosuremediation