Lawmakers have held a special hearing to find out why the New Jersey HomeKeeper Program has been slow to provide financial assistance to unemployed and under-employed Garden state residents facing foreclosure.

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

The program is funded with a $300,000,000 million grant from the U.S. Treasury Department’s “Hardest Hit Fund.”

Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable told members of two Assembly Committees mistakes had been made in the past, in terms of administering the program.

He said “we had very stringent eligibility requirements – it was done for good reasons – we wanted to make sure that folks that were most in need were the ones that most received the funds – we wanted to make sure that the program wasn’t open to fraud – but we went a little bit too far.”

He also said the program now has better management, increased staff, and qualifying requirements have been eased.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action, also testified before the joint Committees, and she criticized the Christie Administration for failing to help struggling homeowners, and called on the State to implement better foreclosure mitigation services.

She said “New Jersey has put in place a great program to help people facing foreclosure, but the program has been run poorly and too few have been helped, New Jersey has more foreclosures than 48 other states yet we are dead last in getting foreclosure relief money to the people who need it…we must fix the Homekeeper program and look to new solutions for the foreclosure crisis.”