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New Jersey helps homeowners stop foreclosure

In an effort to stop foreclosure on homes in these difficult economic times, the U.S. Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund has been allocated $112 million to help 18 states, as well as Washington, D.C., that have been badly affected by the economic downturn.

With financial support from the Hardest Hit Fund, New Jersey has created the New Jersey HomeKeeper Program to help those facing foreclosure and struggling to make their mortgage payments.

Unemployment in New Jersey was 9.3 percent in March. At the same time, foreclosures in the state have increased three-fold since 2006. The Department of Community Affairs commissioner stated that the new program is geared toward helping New Jersey families who face economic difficulties find stable work and be able to keep their homes. The program assists unemployed or underemployed homeowners for up to two years in an effort to help them make mortgage payments.

The HomeKeeper program provides those who qualify with interest-free loans of up to $48,000. The loans are scheduled to be forgiven over time as long as the homeowner remains in their current home. After five years have passed, 20 percent of loans will be forgiven each year. Once a homeowner hits the 10-year mark, the loans will be completely forgiven.

Should a homeowner move or sell the house in the interim, the outstanding balance will be owed. In order to qualify for loans, homeowners will have to prove through pay stubs, unemployment benefits and other documentation that they are under- or unemployed. Only those residing in single or two-family homes are eligible for the program.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "N.J. will aid unemployed homeowners at risk of foreclosure," Kathleen Lynn, 10 May 2011

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