Fighting foreclosure

New project offers assistance to Hudson homeowners facing foreclosure

A new program through a partnership between Hudson County and the Waterfront Project, Inc. offers free services for Hudson County residents facing foreclosure.
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A new program through a partnership between Hudson County and the Waterfront Project, Inc. offers free services for Hudson County residents facing foreclosure.

Homeowners across Hudson County are struggling, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has left many without work and struggling to make their mortgage payments.

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, in coordination with the Board of County Commissioners, is aiming to help those in need through the launch of a new Foreclosure Prevention Project with the help of Jersey City-based nonprofit The Waterfront Project, Inc.

“If a homeowner is having difficulty making their mortgage payments, I encourage them to contact the Foreclosure Prevention Project as soon as possible,” said DeGise.”You do not have to go through this process alone. The County of Hudson wants you to get the help that you need.”

Foreclosure prevention help

The Foreclosure Prevention Project provides free, confidential foreclosure prevention counseling with an experienced housing counselor, certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Waterfront Project, Inc. has hired veteran housing counselor William “Bill” Paige to serve as the HUD-certified housing counselor.

Paige brings nearly 20 years of foreclosure prevention counseling experience to Hudson County. He previously served as a Senior Foreclosure Specialist and a Homeownership Counselor for the Neighborhood Housing Services of Staten Island, The Urban League, and the Tri-City People’s Corporation.

Paige explained that a foreclosure prevention counselor will provide struggling homeowners with information and guidance tailored to their specific situation.

“It’s my job to help you understand your options, and in many cases, help you renegotiate the terms of your mortgage, making it more affordable,” Paige said. “If your circumstances do not allow for you to remain in your home, I can identify programs that will help you relocate and transition into new housing.”

The Waterfront Project, Inc. (WFP) is a nonprofit legal services organization and HUD-certified housing counseling agency serving low and moderate-income Hudson County residents.

Since its founding in 2013, WFP has primarily focused on eviction, offering housing counseling by HUD-certified housing counselors and free legal representation in Landlord-Tenant Court.

“Our expansion to include foreclosure prevention among our offered services fits nicely with our eviction prevention work,” said the nonprofit’s Board President Isabel Chou. “Both prevent the displacement of Hudson County residents from their communities and ensure that vulnerable residents have equal access to justice.”

WFP Executive Director Rebecca Symes explained that through the program and partnership with the county, the nonprofit will be able to proactively contact those in need of assistance.

“Local ordinances require banks and mortgagees to register as they initiate foreclosure proceedings,” Symes said. “In addition to registering, they must also pay a fee. Both requirements will be central to our Foreclosure Prevention Project’s success. By knowing which homeowners are in distress through the registration, The Waterfront Project can affirmatively reach out to them to offer our assistance. And the fee the banks and mortgagees pay to register helps to mitigate the costs and impacts of foreclosures on our local communities.”

Jersey City, Guttenberg, West New York, Harrison, and Secaucus have all passed local ordinances requiring the registration, according to the nonprofit.

DeGise said the project is available for all Hudson County residents, noting “there is no income eligibility criteria for this program; we wanted to make the program available to all homeowners, so there are no barriers to receiving these free services.”

Schedule an appointment now

The nonprofit instructs homeowners who are in distress not to ignore communications from their mortgage companies or the court.

Gov. Murphy signed Executive Order 106 placing a moratorium on removals due to foreclosures until two months after he declares an end to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Homeowners cannot be removed from their homes during this emergency, even if a final judgment of foreclosure has been entered and a sheriff’s sale has taken place.

But court proceedings related to foreclosures are not suspended.

Despite the moratorium, Foreclosure Prevention Counselor Paige urges struggling homeowners to schedule an appointment with him.

“Counseling is available in many languages, can be completed remotely by phone or computer, and appointments can be arranged outside of standard business hours,” he said.

“Reach out to the Foreclosure Prevention Project’s HUD-certified housing counselor, whose services are always free, as soon as possible,” DeGise said. “The County of Hudson wants you to have the best chance of keeping your home.”

Homeowners can schedule an appointment with the Foreclosure Prevention Project at The Waterfront Project by calling (551) 256-7578 or emailing wpaige@thewaterfrontproject.gov.

For more information on the nonprofit go to thewaterfrontproject.org. 

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.