TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation aimed at preventing mortgage foreclosures on houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Christie, a Republican, called the bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature “sloppily written, ill-conceived and politically pandering,” but said he was signing it Friday because it would provide help to some victims.
“We are so thrilled,” said New Jersey Organizing Project co-founder Amanda Deveker-Rinear of the legislation becoming law.
“There are thousands of families still struggling — people who are not home yet and people who are.”
NJOP, based in West Creek, Ocean County has members all over the state but mainly serves Ocean, Monmouth and Atlantic County families. It was formed to help New Jersey families recover after Sandy.
She said the law will especially help those whose homes were damaged who live outside the nine most affected counties, like those in New Gretna, Burlington County.
They could not qualify for aid through the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program, or RREM, but can get help with their mortgages through the new law as long as they qualified for rental assistance through FEMA due to Sandy damage.
“It’s a lifeline so people can afford to stay in their homes,” she said.
She said her group will hold an informational meeting on the new law and other issues from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Atlantic County Library branch in Ventnor.
The law requires the state Department of Community Affairs to publicly report where funding tied to grant application denials goes. Christie says he is concerned the requirement could impact recovery efforts or increase borrowing costs.
Under the law, Sandy victims could get a temporary stay of foreclosure proceedings if they are eligible for certain programs but haven’t received funds.
Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, and the Governor’s Office estimates 365,000 buildings were damaged, based on the number of insurance claims.
The Fair Share Housing Center says 40,500 primary residences and 15,600 rental units sustained “severe” or “major” damage in the storm.
For Sandy victim homeowners currently in foreclosure litigation and eligible to receive relief funds, homeowners could apply for a stay of proceedings.
Staff Writer Michelle Brunetti Post and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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