In tough economic times, many homeowners worry about losing their home to foreclosure. However, New Jersey residents who, for reasons beyond their control, cannot pay their mortgages might be able to find resources to help them reduce their monthly payments through state or federal assistance programs. Rather than ignore notices or phone calls from your lending institution, seek help from one of these available programs.
The New Jersey HomeKeeper Program provides up to $48,000 in forgivable mortgage payments and 0 percent interest help to homeowners in the state who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure as direct result of prolonged unemployment or under-employment. Homeowners may receive assistance for up to two years, as long as they can prove they had been making regular payments before losing their job. Though administered by the state, this program is paid for through a federal grant from the United States Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund.
Mortgage Assistant Pilot Program
The New Jersey Mortgage Assistance Pilot program was designed to provide temporary financial assistance to income-eligible homeowners who want to stay in their homes but are in danger of foreclosure due to short-term financial problems such as loss of a job, a medical crisis or other emergency. In order to receive assistance, homeowners must meet criteria set forth by the State of New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, which governs the program. For more information, call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE.
Police and Firefighters
Active members of the New Jersey Police and Firefighter Retirement System with one year of creditable service may apply for this program, through which they may buy or refinance their home. Rates are set twice a year, and are 30-year fixed loans.
The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan has two programs designed to keep property owners in their homes. The Refinancing Program was designed to help homeowners who can pay their mortgages on time, but are unable to refinance to take advantage of lower mortgage rates, usually due to a reduction in the value of their home. Loans that are owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae are eligible for this program. Another federal program, the Modification Program, helps property owners who are having difficulty making mortgage payments by encouraging lenders to modify or refinance eligible mortgages to reduce payments to a more affordable level.
Even without the assistance of a state or federal program, it is possible to find help to meet your mortgage payments. Call your lender to see if it can offer any assistance or enlist the help of a credit counselor. In some cases, you might be able to refinance your current mortgage.
Lisa Weber is a freelance writer/editor and former special education teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and professional writing, and a master's degree in special education. Over the last 15 years, she has written for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and on-line publications.