New Jersey's Hardest Hit Fund programs called "HomeSaver" and "HomeKeeper" provided money to homeowners facing a foreclosure so they could get a more affordable monthly payment through a refinance, recast, or permanent modification on their first mortgage loan. Unfortunately, these programs are now closed.
However, free housing counseling is available through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Foreclosure Mediation Assistance Program, and other options might be available to help you avoid a foreclosure. Read on to learn more. (To get tips on what to do, and what not to do, when facing a foreclosure, see Foreclosure Do's and Don'ts.)
In 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created the Hardest Hit Fund to provide targeted aid to homeowners in those states most affected by the housing market crash. As part of this program, $7.6 billion in aid was allocated to the 18 states, including New Jersey, along with Washington, D.C., that experienced the most extreme home price declines and high unemployment rates as a result of the economic crisis. More funding was approved in 2016. (Learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund.)
New Jersey was originally awarded over $300 million in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Learn more about the New Jersey foreclosure process.)
Though the Hardest Hit Fund programs were scheduled to continue through 2020, many state programs—including those in New Jersey—stopped accepting new applications when their funds ran out. (There's a slim chance that New Jersey's programs might receive additional funding so you might want to periodically check the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency website, just in case the programs reopen.)
Homeowners in New Jersey may participate in foreclosure mediation to try to save their home from foreclosure. Free housing counseling assistance is available to help with the process through NJHMFA’s Foreclosure Mediation Assistance Program. (To learn more about how foreclosure mediation in New Jersey works, see New Jersey's Foreclosure Mediation Program.)
Other programs—like the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Flex Modification Program (if you have one of those kinds of loans), special programs for people with FHA-insured loans or a VA loan, as well as proprietary (in-house) modification programs—exist to help struggling homeowners modify their loans or otherwise avoid foreclosure. To learn what options are available in your situation, contact your mortgage servicer.
To get more information about how different loss mitigation options work or to get help completing your application, contact a HUD-approved housing counselor as soon as possible. (Learn more about what HUD-approved housing counselors do.)
If you're facing a foreclosure and you need more information about how the process works, whether you have any defenses to the foreclosure, or your rights during the process, talk to a lawyer.