February 5, 2009
Re: Foreclosure Mediation Program
The Office of the New Jersey Attorney General has requested the help of the League and its member municipalities to inform homeowners in foreclosure of a new, free program to help them resolve their situation without losing their homes. The statewide Foreclosure Mediation Program was launched on January 5, 2009, as a partnership of the Judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, Legal Services of NJ, the Office of the Public Advocate, and the Department of Banking and Insurance.
Eligibility for the mediation program is limited to owner-occupied residential properties that are subject to a foreclosure complaint. The goal of the program is to assist homeowners to develop a compromise that benefits both the homeowner and servicers/lenders. To facilitate this process, the State will provide homeowners with access to housing counselors, mediators, and lawyers to support the mediation process.
Key elements of the program include the following:
1. HUD Certified Housing Counselors: Counselors will be sensitive to the homeowner's financial status and recommend a loan work-out that is affordable.
2. Legal Representation: Attorneys are available to help primarily income-eligible participants review documents, negotiate with the lender, and attend the mediation.
3. Experienced Neutral Mediators: Free mediation is available to homeowners facing foreclosure. The mediator will assist the homeowner and the lender to reach a voluntary and amicable solution.
To qualify for free mediation, the following conditions must be met:
1) The homeowner is not in bankruptcy, or if the homeowner has filed for bankruptcy, the petition is discharged, dismissed or the bankruptcy stay has been lifted to allow the foreclosure to proceed.
2) The property is a 1 to 3 family residential property
3) The home is the owner’s primary residence
4) The homeowner is the borrower
If the above conditions are satisfied, the homeowner can call the toll free hotline at 1-888-989-5277 and then must complete and return the financial worksheet and registration documents before the deadline.
Copies of the flyer and brochure on this program can be downloaded from the program’s website: http://www.nj.gov/foreclosuremediation/resources.html. They are available in English and Spanish. We encourage you to circulate copies of these materials in municipal offices, supermarkets, senior citizen organizations, community groups, religious institutions, and local businesses. Other ways of publicizing this important program include newsletters, e-bulletins, tax and utility bills, local newspapers, and, if available, municipal websites and the local cable network.
For more information on the program, please see the press release at: http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases09/pr20090109a.html
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.