In Brief

Murphy adds $10M to program that helps homeowners avoid foreclosure

By: - February 17, 2022 6:32 am

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Gov. Phil Murphy is allocating $10 million in federal COVID funds to a state program aimed at preventing foreclosures.

The state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency will use the dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan to offer financial assistance to some homeowners facing foreclosure and renovate and sell properties left vacant.

The effort is tied to the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which was signed in March 2021 and allows the state to buy out some defaulted mortgages from the Federal Housing Administration before foreclosures. If residents live there, the state helps keep them in their homes. If a house has been abandoned, the state will obtain the title, rehab the property, and put it back on the market.

During his Wednesday press briefing, the governor said the law “protects communities from being negatively impacted by the presence of an abandoned home.”

Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey President Staci Berger celebrated the allocation, pointing to pandemic-era spikes in evictions, rent and mortgage delinquency, and missed utility payments. The problems have affected Black and brown communities disproportionately, she said.

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Union) also commended the move, calling the New Jersey Foreclosure Prevention Act a “blueprint for putting an end to our persistent standing as the state with the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

A real estate study by Attom, which tracks real estate trends, found New Jersey has the third-highest rate of foreclosure activity in November 2021 and consistently falls at the top of the list. Across the Garden State, one in every 3,438 houses are facing foreclosures, compared to one in 6,675 nationally, the report says.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.