Sandy foreclosure bill heads to governor - Jean Mikie, Asbury Park Press
Bill to help Sandy victims avoid foreclosure goes to governor - Michelle Brunetti, Press of Atlantic City
A bill to help Hurricane Sandy victims avoid foreclosure headed to the governor’s desk Monday after passing the state Senate.
It had already passed the Assembly.
The bill, S2300, would give homeowners hurt by Sandy the ability to apply for a forbearance period on their mortgages, during which they could stop making mortgage payments but would have to continue to maintain and insure their properties and pay property taxes.
Co-sponsor Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, said providing a pathway to prevent foreclosure will protect families who are struggling to fund both a mortgage and rent.
“The process of securing state and federal recovery funds is long and complex,” Beck said. “It has been four years, and yet we still have 3,200 Sandy victims eager to complete elevation and construction projects, including some that have just begun.”
The other co-sponsor was Brian Stack, D-Hudson.
While advocates celebrated its legislative approval, they won’t be able to relax until Gov. Chris Christie signs it. He conditionally vetoed a somewhat similar bill last year.
“We are only two-thirds of the way toward really helping people,” said Amanda Devecka-Rinear, of Cedar Bonnet Island in Stafford Township, founder of the New Jersey Organizing Project, a grassroots group. “We really need the governor to do the right thing and sign the legislation.”
The mortgage forbearance period would be until one year after the home is awarded a certificate of occupancy, or to July 1, 2019, whichever is earlier.
The bill provides for more transparency by the state Department of Community Affairs in its decision-making on applications under the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation; Low-to-Moderate Income; and Tenant-Based Rental Assistance programs.
It also extends the one-year deadline for completing a project following a program grant award, if the delay was caused by a builder.
The bill defines a Sandy-impacted homeowner as one who received rental assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of damage to his or her primary residence due to Sandy, or has been approved for assistance through RREM or LMI.
Devecka-Rinear’s group has drawn attention to the thousands of families whose houses were badly damaged and who are still not back in their homes.
Last year’s bill that Christie conditionally vetoed would have allowed for a three-year mortgage forbearance. Christie said he felt such questions should be left in the hands of the courts.
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Sandy survey wants the ‘truth’ from NJ storm victims - Dino Flammia, NJ 101.5
If your home suffered damage from Superstorm Sandy, your input is needed in a statewide survey that seeks the “truth” about lingering issues and the toll it’s taken on New Jersey residents.
In 2013, a home rests in Barnegat Bay, in Mantoloking, where it was swept to by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)Officially known as the Sandy Truth Project, the partnership between New Jersey Organizing Project, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and Rutgers University, is hoping to gather 500 to 800 responses from Sandy victims, either online or by canvassing storm-affected neighborhoods.
“We definitely want to dive in deep and we’re looking for details,” said Joe Mangino, cofounder of New Jersey Organizing Project, a nonprofit devoted to Sandy survivors.
So respondents won’t just be asked if they’re back home and happy with the recovery money they may have received. The survey seeks to learn who was a victim of contractor fraud, and how, or who’s been contacted by the state to return some of the funds they received to rebuild.
Reports in October cited more than 170 homeowners who received notices demanding that money be repaid due to duplicative benefits.
Mangino said he’s working on legislation with lawmakers to deal with “clawback” letters.
The survey also targets the lingering economic and health impacts of the October 2012 storm.
“We know a lot of people suffered mentally from this with PTSD and other issues,” Mangino said. “And many people may now be back home but their home is facing foreclosure because they’ve exhausted everything they had just to get back into their house.”
The survey will run for another two months or so, Mangino said. Members in January will canvas neighborhoods in Little Egg Harbor and Beach Haven. There are also plans to speak with residents of Brick, Toms River and northern Monmouth County.
“We want to be able to take action,” Mangino said. “We’re doing this survey to uncover what are the next things we need to work on.”
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