At last estimate, about ten percent of New Jersey homeowners are behind on their mortgage, and many are facing a foreclosure as a result of an either late or missed payment. Free foreclosure assistance and counseling is now being offered through churches' across New Jersey, as well as their affiliated community-development corporations and non profits. Together these types of organizations are playing a growing role in the region in trying to help people keep their homes. Some churches are now also working with the New Jersey state government to organize events. Others provide direct assistance through a staff of on site, HUD approved housing counselors.
It is becoming more recognized that with their far-reaching networks, many local churches are proving to be effective at spreading word about foreclosure assistance programs. These various faith-based groups and churches are well-positioned to help in those New Jersey communities with high foreclosure rates, according to state government officials.
The state is now fully supporting this initiative. Over the last few years, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency has issued almost $2 million in grants to churches, their affiliated non-profits, and the faith-based agencies, some of these which may be affiliated with Christian megachurches. Grantees are trained by the state and federal government to the highest level of federal standards and these counselors must serve everyone, not just their congregants.
The Faith Fellowship Community Development Corp. in Sayreville is one organization. Just this year (2010) they have helped about 600 families facing foreclosure, and provide free counseling, advice, and mortgage assistance. Phone (732) 727-7931.
Faith Fellowship Ministries is another location that partners with churches and non-profits. The location has provided mortgage and foreclosure counseling to home buyers since 2001. With the housing crisis slightly better, but it is still in full effect in many communities, their efforts and programs have increased in scale. Today, the church has three full-time foreclosure counselors, almost 20 part-timers, and a waiting list of church members interested in helping other homeowners.
Abundant Life Fellowship in Delran ((215) 424-0591) directs homeowners to foreclosure service providers and assistance programs that best fit their housing needs.
In Gibbsboro, Generations Inc., which is an affiliate of Bethany Baptist Church, provides help for distressed homeowners up to the point of foreclosure. Four counselors are on staff to provide this free service. Dial (856) 783-7100.
In Philadelphia and the southern New Jersey area (including Princeton), Jewish Family and Children's Service (phone (609) 987-8100) provides free foreclosure advice through a grant from a family foundation. In addition, this non-profit agency also has credit-counseling, debt reduction and foreclosure-prevention services for area homeowners.
These churches have fully trained counselors on staff, and they are HUD certified. As just one example of how the church programs are effective, a housing counselor at one New Jersey agency helped a homeowner secure a loan modification with a 2 percent interest rate and a $500 reduction in their monthly mortgage payment.
Dial 888-989-5277 to start mediation or to find a church that provides free foreclosure counseling in New Jersey.
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