Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Christie angrily defends delay of millions to save underwater homeowners

Gov. Christie got into it with a TV reporter yesterday working on a follow-up to my story from earlier this month about New Jersey's failure to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in money available to those in foreclosure.

Christie angrily defends delay of millions to save underwater homeowners

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Gov. Christie got into it with a TV reporter yesterday working on a follow-up to my story from earlier this month about New Jersey's failure to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in money available to those in foreclosure.

This time, Christie didn't call the reporter an "idiot," he just got annoyed and cut him off.

In the piece, despite the anchor's claim of an "exclusive," I did report the story first earlier this month -- and technically, the federal government nabbed the exclusive: In a report from the summer, it compiled data that showed that of the 18 states awarded federal money because they've been hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis, New Jersey has used the least amount of money.

In my story, Christie's Department of Community Affairs commissioner actually acknowledged the problems with spending the money, and told me about a series of changes they would be implementing to improve and quicken the distribution of funds.

But when pressed by a reporter from ABC's New York affiliate yesterday, Christie didn't acknowledge the problems and used a different excuse for the delay in spending the cash: "Our policy was put on hold waiting to see what the courts were going to do regarding foreclosures."

Actually, that shouldn't have mattered. And I did not hear that explanation at all in my reporting. While there was a temporary stoppage of some banks foreclosing on New Jerseyans, plenty of homeowners were still in foreclosure and could have been helped with the money. After all, New Jersey has one of the worst foreclosure rates in the country.

New Jersey Assembly Democrats announced today they plan to hold hearings on the issue.

I've received dozens of calls after my story ran from residents looking for help. If you're a New Jerseyan who needs help staying in your home, click here for the HomeKeeper program.

And here's video, courtesy of PolitickerNJ.com, from yesterday's heated exchange in Long Branch between the gov and a reporter:

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