Under a proposal from Democrats in the New Jersey legislature, foreclosed properties would be converted to affordable housing for low and moderate-income families. Funding would come from the state Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as well as municipalities and federal dollars.

The New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act was introduced in Trenton this week.

State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union), sponsor of the measure, said, "This would be instead of new developments, which are costly, and don't provide the improvements to neighborhoods and improvements to property values."

He said vacant and boarded-up homes are a blight on neighborhoods, an invitation to vandalism and crime, and a drag on the state's economic recovery.

It has been reported that more than 100,000 New Jersey homeowners are dealing with foreclosures.

The bill would also include incentives for towns to participate in the transformation process. Bonus credits towards affordable housing obligations would be awarded to municipalities that dedicate properties as affordable housing.

Lesniak said the measure is a win for all New Jersey residents - those who would afford a new home, and the people surrounding the abandoned properties.

Assemblyman Jerry Green, sponsor of the bill's lower house version, added, "While measures have been put in place over the last few years to help families struggling to pay their mortgages, the current economic climate is making it almost impossible and is forcing many families to default on their mortgages."