NJ DCA Boss Says Foreclosure Assistance Program Has Been Fixed
New Jersey's HomeKeeper program, designed to help the unemployed and under-employed facing foreclosure in the Garden State, has had significant problems over the past year, but Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable says things have been straightened out.
During testimony in Trenton before a joint Assembly Committee, the Commissioner said when the program was started last year, no one was sure how to best use the 300 million dollars sent from the Feds " because we never had a similar program here in New Jersey - and we had to come up with this program from scratch with literally no guidance from the federal government…other states that were also recipients of the federal funds had problems."
He also said initially, very few loans were being distributed, but now, "We are giving out approximately 250 a month, which puts us in terms of all 18 states - about 5th or 6th…We have appropriate staff, we have better eligibility to increase the number of New Jersey homeowners, and we have streamlined the application process to make it easier for the borrower to receive a HomeKeeper loan…So we're certainly moving in the right direction, and this is all about helping New Jersey homeowners."
Constable adds, "I want people to know that the New Jersey HomeKeeper program is there to help them - it's www-dot- njhomekeeper-dot-gov…I am committed to make sure that they receive the help they need."
John McKeon, a member of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, says the way this situation was handled was unacceptable.
"They wanted to say we had to build a program from the ground up," he says, "Yet, they take only 4 individuals, unfamiliar with administrating it, and put them in charge of 300 million and we can see the results-woefully inadequate, and to indicate the Governor wasn't focused on the way the program was being implemented, just doesn't meet the smell test."
He says everyone was aware of how the profound foreclosure crisis was, "and not to be on top of that affirmatively - waiting to hear the program wasn't being implemented- that just doesn't meet muster…Hopefully, this Commissioner has a much better handle on what needs to be done to implement the program. We see the numbers slowly rising- it's already too late for many New Jerseyans who have lost their homes, hopefully this money will be put into the right hands as we help to bridge the gap to a better economy."