TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday the Department of Community Affairs has taken the steps to address the shortcomings of the foreclosure assistance program.
It was recently revealed the state was sitting on several millions of dollars in federal funds that were intended to go to residents who are on the brink of losing their homes.
Among the steps was to increase the number of employees dealing with such cases, going up from four employees to 50, and loosening the standards to make it easier for people to qualify.
Christie said that DCA Commissioner Richard Constable said there weren’t enough resources devoted to the program when he was appointed commissioner earlier this year. The department was previously run by Lori Grifa.
Since Constable took over, the HomeKeeper program, which is run by DCA, has distributed some $50 million of the $300 million in TARP funds it received.
“He (Constable) believes we’ll continue at a very brisk pace moving forward,” Christie said about making more homeowners eligible.
Christie attributed the past sluggishness of the program to a lack of urgency by DCA that stemmed from the Supreme Court’s moratorium on foreclosure proceedings. That moratorium has since been lifted.
The governor said the handling of that program shows the administration doesn’t leave a problem unaddressed.
“When we identify a shortcoming, we fix it,” he said.
Two Assembly panels will take up the issue Wednesday during a joint hearing, and the Senate will vote on a foreclosure bill on Thursday.