NJ Needs Homes and Jobs, Housing Advocates Tell Legislators
Group delivers flip-flops to senators, urging Sandy “Bill of Rights” veto override;
releases new report showing foreclosure crisis unabated in NJ


Housing advocates urged legislators today to invest in affordable homes and job creation, by ensuring a fair Sandy recovery and addressing the foreclosure crisis. During their annual advocacy event at the State House, members of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) delivered flip-flops to NJ Senate Republicans who voted in support of the Sandy “Bill of Rights” but changed their position after Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the bill.

“Legislators who voted for the Sandy ‘Bill of Rights’ need to stand by their original position, and vote to override the governor’s veto,” said Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Network. “Legislators unanimously voted for this bill in March. After Governor Christie vetoed the bill, some legislators have changed their minds about helping Sandy survivors and ensuring that the recovery is fair and transparent. New Jersey voters know that flip-flops belong on the Shore, not on the Sandy Bill of Rights.”

During the event, advocates also testified before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on the impact the foreclosure crisis on New Jersey residents and communities. New Jersey has the highest rate of foreclosures in the country, and a report released by the group found that the epidemic is having a deep impact on lower-income residents and neighborhoods. Foreclosure victims and housing counselors spoke to the committee about the experiences of people struggling to stay in their homes.

“We’re seeing three to five new clients and about two returning clients weekly in addition to our current caseload,” said Alle Ries, director of the community and economic development division for Newark’s La Casa de Don Pedro. “Homeowners are overwhelmed by the process and come to housing counselors like us to help guide them through the process, free of charge. Unfortunately, our caseload is not decreasing but our funding has. The Homekeeper program has run out of money, so now New Jersey no longer has a program to assist the growing number of families facing foreclosure.”

The Network presented a new report by Kathe Newman, associate professor and director of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers which detailed the impact of foreclosures on New Jersey’s communities and residents. Despite improvements across the country addressing the foreclosure crisis, New Jersey remains far behind.

The report found that the foreclosure rate in the Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton metro area holds the dubious distinction of being the worst in the nation with the Atlantic City-Hammonton area a close second. New Jersey has three other metro areas in the top 100 for foreclosure filing in the nation. An examination of foreclosure filings in 2013 found that in Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Camden Counties, there were approximately 3000-5000 in each. Another seven counties - Passaic, Hudson, Union, Mercer, Burlington, Gloucester and Atlantic saw between 2000-3000 filings each.

Said Berger, “The foreclosure crisis is the albatross around the neck of our economic recovery. Not one of the counties in our state has seen home prices regain their value from 2006. We can, and we must do better. There are so many ways the state can support foreclosure prevention efforts, from funding counseling to helping to preserve homes in foreclosure, to encouraging mortgage modifications.”

Today’s events were part of the Housing and Community Development Network's annual lobby day which brings housing advocates together in Trenton to emphasize the need to create more affordable homes and stronger communities across the state.  

The Housing and Community Development Network is the state wide association of more than 250 community development corporations and other organizations working together to create affordable homes, expand economic opportunities, and build strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.

For more information:  Nina Arce
(609) 393-3752 x1200
(609) 789-7900
Website:  hcdnnj.org
Twitter site:  twitter.com/hcdnnj
Facebook site:  facebook.com/hcdnnj