Section: Costs of project; inclusion of expenses furthering equal employment opportunities
2. The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. Many thousands of New Jersey homeowners are at risk of losing their homes as a result of mortgage foreclosures in the immediate future;
b. Foreclosure of a family's home often represents the loss of the family's most valuable financial asset, and foreclosures undermine the health and economic vitality of neighborhoods;
c. Foreclosures result in the loss of millions of dollars in assets, not only those of the homeowners who are the victims of foreclosure, but also in terms of the property values of homes located in the vicinity of foreclosed properties, as well as millions in additional costs to state and local government for the loss of property tax revenue;
d. According to a report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in October 2007, New Jersey experienced an increase in residential mortgage foreclosure start rates in excess of 50% over the prior two years and the GAO found that defaults and foreclosures on mortgages have a significant economic impact on homeowners, lenders, and neighborhoods;
e. According to a report issued in April 2008 by the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, which is composed of banking regulators and attorneys general of 11 states, the collective efforts of mortgage lenders and government officials to address rising foreclosures has not resulted in meaningful improvement in foreclosure prevention, and new approaches, such as targeted efforts to slow down the foreclosure process, are needed to prevent millions of unnecessary foreclosures nationwide;
f. Foreclosures are largely the result of subprime lending practices, which have placed many homeowners in loans that they cannot realistically afford, by using mortgage loan features such as low introductory rates which reset to higher, variable rates, thereby increasing the risk of default for many homeowners in the State who, at an increasing rate, cannot sell their home or refinance their mortgage;
g. Industry analysts estimate that, nationwide, about 1.5 million mortgages are due to reset in 2008, and that as many as three million subprime mortgages could end up in foreclosure over the next several years; and
h. There is a compelling need for the State of New Jersey to address the ongoing economic crisis in the subprime mortgage market and to provide the means by which homeowners can obtain a period of extension to adjust their finances in order to increase their ability to retain their homes, encourage mortgage lenders to modify mortgage loan terms and resolve foreclosure disputes, and protect local governments and neighborhoods from the negative social, economic, and fiscal consequences of foreclosure and abandonment.
L.2008, c.86, s.2.
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