TRENTON – A state senator whose legislation to transform foreclosed properties into affordable housing was rejected by Gov. Chris Christie Monday says he’s baffled by the governor’s actions.
The legislation, S2157/A3372, would have established the New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act, which would have given the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency the ability to purchase foreclosed homes and dedicate them as affordable housing units.
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-22), even went so far Tuesday as to say that whoever actually wrote the governor’s conditional veto likely failed to even review the legislation.
“I’m sure he didn’t write it,” said Lesniak, referring to the governor penning the language of his own CV. “But whoever did either didn’t read the bill or has no idea what they’re talking about,” he said.
The bill sought to transform empty dwellings into occupied homes, which is why Lesniak says he was confused by the governor’s veto message. The CV told lawmakers the state should rely on $300 million in federal funds to assist New Jersey families in trouble with their mortgages, “as opposed to the unavailable and, in some cases unidentified, state funding sources that this bill relies upon,” according to the veto.
“One has nothing to do with the other,” Lesniak said.
“He keeps referring to that program, which is a program they haven’t used effectively so far,” he said. “It has nothing to do with my bill, which is to transform foreclosed homes, which are a blight on neighborhoods.”
Lesniak also criticized the governor for vetoing his other proposal, S2202/A3372, which would have required the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Authority to expand participation in the New Jersey HomeKeeper Program. The program provides assistance to New Jersey homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes.
“The first thing I have to do is get the guy to acknowledge that there’s a problem,” said Lesniak, referring to the state’s high foreclosure rate.
“Being number one in the nation in the number of foreclosed homes is nothing we should be proud of,” he said.