Back to square one on bill to prevent Sandy foreclosures

 In this aerial photo, sand fills the streets in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, along the central Jersey Shore, N.J. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

In this aerial photo, sand fills the streets in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, along the central Jersey Shore, N.J. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill this week that would have protected homeowners affected by Superstorm Sandy from foreclosures.

Under the bill homeowners could apply to postpone mortgage payments on storm-damaged properties for up to three years.

Bill sponsor Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic County) said the bill would have helped people “in the unenviable position of having mortgages they need to pay on their houses which have been effectively destroyed, who are paying rent in the meantime. They’re trying to get on their feet and trying to survive.”

In his veto, Gov. Christie cited concerns with the method of providing aid to homeowners, writing “this well-intentioned bill would preclude some homeowners who may need relief from receiving it, while providing relief to others who may not need it.”

He proposed only allowing those already involved in foreclosure proceedings to seek relief from the court, rather than allowing homeowners to apply for postponed payments before proceedings begin. Christie also suggested removing a requirement that New Jersey reimburse mortgage holders for their losses.  

Schaer is critical of Christie’s suggested changes. Placing the decision to grant relief entirely in the hands of the court, he said, “literally eviscerates the bill, makes the bill meaningless, does not provide the protection to homeowners who were devastated by Sandy.”

Legislators will likely resubmit the original bill for the 2016-2017 legislative session.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.