First, let's remember how we got here. We fought for YEARS to push the Governor to sign the Foreclosure Bill. And then the Governor vetoed the bill.
Here's a photo of families who camped out across the street from the statehouse for 3 nights on the Sandy 3 year anniversary to demand the foreclosure bill (and rental assistance & contractor accountability)
We didn't quit though, so another bill was introduced the next year. And then the Governor signed it, and included a grumpy note about how he didn't really want to but he would anyway.
Here's a photo of the Sandy survivors who interrupted the Governor's press conference on the Sandy 4 year anniversary to push him to sign that foreclosure bill.
Now it's up to the DCA & courts to implement the legislation and the banks and mortgage servicers to comply, and here's a photo of how it's going.
Just kidding. It's not all unicorns and kittens.
Given what it took to get here, we didn't expect the roll-out would be painless.
We're starting to hear from people about how this is going,
but we need to hear from everybody who is applying.
1If you got a letter from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) telling you that you may be eligible for a Forbearance Certification to save your home from foreclosure, you may ALSO be eligible for a Stay of Foreclosure Order by a Court.
But sadly the letter didn't say that. The law gives Sandy impacted homeowners who have not had a certificate of occupancy for a year, the right to apply to the DCA for a Forbearance Certification that allows them to stop making monthly mortgage payments until after they are back in their homes. Although, based on the online form, it's not clear that the DCA is reading the law the same way we are. We need to hear from folks in this situation who we believe may be getting falsely rejected.
You may be eligible for a Forbearance Certification if you are still struggling and either 1) received FEMA rental assistance or 2) have been approved for RREM or LMI.
2You may ALSO be eligible for a Stay if your lender had filed foreclosure proceedings against you as of August 10, 2015. And if it's been since August 10, 2015, we think you are eligible for a forbearance. Though again, we're not sure the DCA sees it that way. And again, we need to hear from people in this situation.
Both a Stay or a Forbearance can put off mortgage payments until July 1, 2019 or until a year after you get a C.O., whichever is first.
The forbearance requires that you file an application with the DCA, on-line, by May 31, 2017. The DCA must make a decision on your application within 30 days of the day you file the application. If the Commissioner does not make a decision on your application in 30 days then the law treats it as if the DCA granted you the Forbearance Certification.
For information on this you have to go on-line to: http://nj.gov/dca/ - Click on ‘Sandy Impacted Forbearance Certification’ and follow instructions. We know some people have had a hard time with the online application and have been able to get a paper copy. If you have too - ask for a paper copy and then ask to drop it off at their offices.
3The Stay requires application to the court. You probably will need a lawyer and you need to do this by June 30th. If you have a lawyer, great. If not, try Legal Services of New Jersey. Call LSNJ’s Sandy hotline between 9:00 to 5:00 at (888) 222-5765 or apply at www.lsnjlawhotline.org/HurricaneSandy. Please let them know you are looking for help applying for your Stay in court. Currently, LSNJ does not apply an income test to determine initial eligibility for assistance on Sandy cases.
A couple more details:
When you are granted the forbearance from DCA, make sure to ask your bank or mortgage servicer to acknowledge, in writing, that they received it and they're complying with the law. AND don't forget that you are responsible for your taxes and any insurance during the period of forbearance. So if your taxes, homeowners or flood insurance are usually paid by your bank as part of your mortgage- you need to take on making those payments.
The good news is, we've seen people's Forbearance Certificates with our own eyes, and heard from families who have been granted a Stay of Foreclosure, which means the law is already helping families hang on. We just want to make sure it helps the maximum amount of people it can. Remember, everyone has a right to appeal a decision denying you a Forbearance. You are welcome to check with us, or a disaster case manager, or your lawyer before you file and appeal.
Until everyone is home and can afford to stay,