Spotlight On: Agencies Keeping NJ Residents in their Homes

Forum on housing counseling launches Community Development Spotlight series


Representatives from Valley National Bank presented housing counselors from non-profit community development organizations their latest homeowner mortgage product. Pictured from left to right: Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network; Bernadette Mueller, executive vice president and senior community reinvestment act officer, Valley National Bank; Elizabeth DeLaney, first senior vice president; Victor Urbanovich, senior vice president and residential mortgage loan officer, Valley National Bank; and Sharon Barker, vice president and chief operating officer, the Network.

The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) launched its first ever Community Development Spotlight series at a forum on housing counseling at La Casa de Don Pedro today. Housing counselors from nonprofit community development organizations all over the state participated in the forum that focused on available resources for renters, first-time home buyers and challenges faced by those helping NJ residents facing foreclosure.

“New Jersey has a serious housing crisis, with too many residents unable to afford the rent or the mortgage,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer. “Housing counselors are a lifeline, helping homeowners and renters chart a path to housing stability. We’re putting a on spotlight housing counseling because it benefits our economy when our residents aren’t struggling to afford their homes.”

Today’s event featured a panel discussion with housing counselors from the Affordable Housing Alliance, the Paterson Task Force, as well as La Casa de Don Pedro. Participants also heard from Annemarie Uebbing, director of the Community Planning and Development Newark Field Office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and representatives from Valley National Bank who presented their latest homeowner mortgage products.

“Our housing counselors see hundreds of clients annually, these are people on the verge of finding themselves out on the street,” said Raymond Ocasio, executive director of La Casa de Don Pedro. “We’re doing as much as we can to help these individuals with the resources we have available. The fact of the matter is that counseling compensation is inappropriate and inadequate funds. The inadequacies today will only be worse when the foreclosure backlog materializes in our communities.”

The Community Development Spotlight series includes events in areas all across the state with a focus on various aspects of community development including homelessness prevention and services, economic development, community gardening, policy and advocacy, supportive and special needs housing, and much more. For a full listing of events and for more information, please visit

About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit