Changes in N.J. program expected to help homeowners facing foreclosure

The Christie administration says it’s made some changes that should make it easier for New Jersey homeowners facing foreclosure to get federal aid.

The New Jersey HomeKeeper program provides zero-interest loans for homeowners who are struggling to make mortgage payments because of unemployment or underemployment.

But Newark resident Grace Alexander told an Assembly committee her application was denied because the amount of her debt increased while she was waiting for approval.

“Who is the program intended to help if not those of us with a high debt or poor credit? I intend to reapply for the hardest hit funds,” she said.

Only 56 loans were approved last year when the state distributed a fraction of the $300 million in federal funds it got for the program.

Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable blames management failures for the slow start-up of the program.

“We did not appropriately staff the program. We did not appropriately scale the program,” he said.

Constable says the program now has additional staff, better management, and more relaxed requirements. He says the goal is to make 250 loans a month.

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