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Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Get Free Mediation Counseling

TAPinto.net — August 27, 2018

By REBECCA PANICO

NEWARK, NJ — A new state program offers mediation counseling services to New Jersey residents facing foreclosure.

The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) is using $1 million to fund the program to help up to 2,000 homeowners facing foreclosure.

"When people who have had their homes foreclosed or they get notification, they are outflanked at the bargaining table," said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also heads the state Department of Community Affairs and chairs the NJHMFA board. "You will find financial institutions with cadres of attorneys and financial analysts, and our homeowners come to the table without representation."

When homeowners are served with a foreclosure notification, they'll also receive information about where they can access free U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD)-certified counseling agencies. At least five agencies operate in Essex County.

New Jersey was hit hard by foreclosures ever since the 2008 real estate bubble and has struggled to recover. The Garden State in 2017 ranked the highest in foreclosures throughout the nation.

The HUD-certified counselors will work with homeowners in mediation, helping to negotiate with lenders. People who take advantage of counselors are more likely to receive loan modifications that allow them to stay in their home, said NJHMFA Director Charles Richman.

A homeowner facing foreclosure must request mediation within 60 days after they receive a summons and complaint. The homeowner must also be living in the property that is in foreclosure and all borrowers involved have to agree to mediation in order to qualify.

Homeowners who are in bankruptcy will not qualify for mediation.

"Today, thanks to the leadership of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and our partners at (NJHMFA), we're able to have another tool in our tool chest," said New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye. Her organization is one of several which will provide counseling services to homeowners.

Here is a list of HUD-Certified housing counseling agencies that operate in Monmouth County.

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