Affordable housing advocacy groups today said Gov. Chris Christie is misusing $75 million from a foreclosure settlement, calling his budget plan “reckless” and “a shell game.”
Christie is putting that money into the budget general fund, advocates said at a Statehouse press conference this morning, instead of specifically earmarking it to fund help for people who have been foreclosed on.
“We have heard a lot about the need for a tax cut for residents making as much as $400,000,” said Staci Berger, from the Community Development Network of New Jersey. “Yet we have heard nothing about helping families keep their homes or providing tools for towns to tackle their vacant foreclosed property problems.”
In February, New Jersey netted more than $800 million from a $25 billion multi-state settlement between 49 states and financial institutions such as Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.
The majority of the payment will go to direct relief to homeowners in the form of loan modifications, refinancings or direct payments to those who lost their home. The $75.5 million went to the state to help it pay for state housing programs.
But Berger said putting it into the general fund for housing programs means Christie is just moving money around to balance his budget, not helping struggling homeowners.
More than 50 organizations signed a letter and delivered it to Christie’s office today, asking him to reconsider.