Groups Urge Governor Not to Foreclose on New Jersey


Today at a Statehouse press conference, New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA) and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ) released a letter to Governor Christie calling on him to use the $75 million of the federal foreclosure settlement for foreclosure prevention.

The letter, signed by over 50 organizations across the state, urged the governor to make foreclosure a state budget priority by using settlement dollars for foreclosure counseling, affordable home creation, and addressing the overabundance of vacant or abandoned foreclosed properties in neighborhoods across New Jersey. Participants in today's event state that the governor purports to use these funds for "housing programs" but in reality, those funds have been earmarked to help balance the budget.

"The governor is taking money that should be used to support efforts to mitigate and reverse the economic damage caused by Wall Street," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive direct of NJCA.  "Instead, he is dumping the $75 million dollars into a state budget that provides tax breaks to the rich and loop holes for corporations while at the same time cutting essential programs and services for 99% of New Jerseyans."

The $75 million New Jersey is receiving is part of a $25 billion dollar agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers to end federal and state probes into abusive foreclosure practices. It’s the largest multistate settlement since the Tobacco Settlement in 1998. Advocates and legislators point to reports from the Mortgage Bankers Association that show foreclosure rates in New Jersey are on the rise, bucking the national trend, as cause to prioritize the issue in the state budget.   

"Governor Christie has several priorities in his state budget but unfortunately, New Jersey residents and communities suffering from the foreclosure crisis do not appear to be among them," said Staci Berger, "We have heard a lot about the ‘need’ for a tax cut for residents making as much as $400,000. Yet, we have heard nothing about helping families keep their homes or providing tools for towns to tackle their vacant, foreclosed property problems."

"Borrowing to pay for a tax cut is not just irresponsible, it's reckless," said the Honorable Raymond J. Lesniak, senator of Legislative District 20.

Paterson Habitat for Humanity, La Casa de Don Pedro, the New Jersey Sierra Club, the New Jersey Tenants Organization, New Jersey Community Capital, and the SEIU NJ State Council were among the many to sign the letter to the governor. Also participating in today's event was Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer (D-36).  

"La Casa de Don Pedro and other effective housing counseling agencies have the experience and know-how to immediately put these dollars to use and save the homes of so many families at risk of foreclosure," said Raymond Ocasio, executive director of Newark based La Casa de Don Pedro. "Our neighborhoods are being impacted quicker than our current capacity and we need every dollar available. We urge the Governor to make the right decision, put these dollars to productive use, and help save New Jersey’s neighborhoods."

Click here to view the letter to Governor Christie. To learn more about New Jersey Citizen Action, visit To learn more about the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, visit