February 2017 - Making Millennials Move

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TH E M R EP O RT | 59 O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T GOVERNMENT THE LATEST Post-Hurricane Sandy Bill Aims to Bring Relief to Homeowners Awaiting approval from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the bill would offer hurricane victims mortgage forbearance. N ew Jersey homeowners who were victims of Hurricane Sandy will no longer have to fear foreclosure thanks to the latest bill waiting for approval from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The bill, named S2300, would help homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy avoid foreclosure by allowing them to apply for a forbearance period on exist - ing mortgages, and homeowners would be allowed to stop making mortgage payments but would be responsible for maintaining and insuring their properties as well as paying property taxes. Sponsored by Sens. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and Brian Stack (D-Hudson), the bill was passed by the Assembly and the New Jersey State Senate before going to Gov. Christie. Homeowners who have been approved for assistance through New Jersey's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Evaluation, and Mitigation (RREM) program; the Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) program; and the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program could be offered temporary protection against foreclosure through mort - gage forbearance under S2300. The bill also aims to assist those who received rental assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of property damage caused by the storm. Sen. Beck told Press of Atlantic City that the new bill will provide a safety net for families who are struggling to pay for their mortgage. "The process of securing state and federal recovery funds is long and complex," she said. "It has been four years, and yet we still have 3,200 Sandy vic - tims eager to complete elevation and construction projects, includ- ing some that have just begun." The forbearance period would be effective up until one year after the home is awarded a certificate of occupancy, or to July 1, 2019, whichever comes first. HUD Raises the Bar for Housing Counselors The Department announced it will begin requiring certification for all HUD- approved housing counselors. H ousing counselors par- ticipating in HUD-ap- proved programs must now be certified in or- der to offer services to consumers, according to an announcement from HUD on December 14. The new certification require- ments call for counselors to pass a standardized written exam and work for a HUD-approved coun- seling agency. Congress directed HUD to develop a standardized certification program for housing counsel- ing in response to the crisis, in order to "increase the compe- tency of counselors in the full range of hous- ing issues confronting consumers." That range of issues includes pro- tecting consumers from scams perpetrated by operators who prey on the most vulnerable consumers, according to HUD. "Independent research shows that consumers working with a HUD housing counseling agency have better credit, more sav- ings, and fewer foreclosures than similar non-counseled consumers," HUD stated in its announcement. In order to pass the examina- tion, housing counselors must demonstrate competence in the following areas, according to HUD: • financial management • property maintenance • responsibilities of homeowner- ship and tenancy • fair housing laws and require- ments • housing affordability • avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delin- quency and avoidance of evic- tion and mortgage default HUD will offer training and study resources in both English and Spanish to help counselors prepare for the examination. Resources available include a practice test to be made available soon. HUD said it has targeted spring 2017 as the publication date for the actual certification test. The final rule will take full effect three years from the time that the certification examination is published, according to HUD. "Once HUD's rule is fully implemented, housing counseling required by HUD or provided in connection with any HUD program will meet common stan - dards and will be delivered by a HUD certified counselor work- ing for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency," HUD stated. Consumers seeking assistance will then be able to search an online database managed by HUD, containing a list of HUD- approved housing counseling agencies and certified counselors. "Independent research shows that consumers working with a HUD housing counseling agency have better credit, more savings, and fewer foreclosures than similar non-counseled consumers."

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