ICYMI: NJ has used less foreclosure aid than its peers

In Case You Missed It, my story on how the Christie administration has used federal funds for foreclosure aid ran in yesterday's paper:

Struggling New Jersey homeowners, facing a quickening rate of foreclosures, are supposed to have a lifeline: the HomeKeeper program, run by the state and funded with $300 million from the federal bank bailout. 

But 15 months after the program was launched, the state says only 10 percent of that money has been spent, to help just 750 homeowners.

According to a report from a U.S. special inspector general, New Jersey has drawn the lowest percentage of federal money available to the 18 "hardest-hit" states. (Pennsylvania is not on the list.)

This despite the fact that the Mortgage Bankers Association says New Jersey has the second-highest percentage in the nation of mortgage loans in foreclosure - 7.7 percent.

Intended to provide forgivable, no-interest mortgage loans to unemployed and underemployed homeowners at risk of losing their homes, HomeKeeper has had a slow response time, a lack of outreach, and strict rules that have disqualified needy people, according to housing advocates and homeowners.

The Christie administration is acknowledging the problems. In an interview last week, the official in charge said improvements would be evident by the beginning of 2013.

"I took a hard look at this program, and I didn't like the results that I saw," said Richard Constable III, commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, appointed by Gov. Christie in January. "We will help thousands and thousands of residents," he said.

Read the rest of the story, here.