Foreclosure: The Process of Padlocking a Home

Article written by  Michael Nunes


The foreclosure rate in New Jersey has spiked 89 percent for 2013, reports CNN.

Since the housing bubble burst in 2008, foreclosure rates nationwide saw a spike because many people could not afford to pay off their mortgage.  The bursting of the housing bubble contributed to the credit crisis, bringing on an economic recession. At its peak, the recession caused many Americans to be laid off and unable to make payments, thus the foreclosure rate began to rise.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate before the recession hit was a stable 4 percent. After the recession it shot up, hitting a peak of 9.7 percent in December of 2009. Currently, the unemployment rate has been slowly sinking to 8.5 percent throughout the state.

"Pink House" by Christine M.
“Pink House” by Christine M.

New Jersey has so many foreclosures that banks have delayed the process to keep up with the influx of homes. The average foreclosure time-table, according to law offices of Jenkins & Clayman, is 1033 days, the second longest in the nation next to New York.

Foreclosure is a long process that could take months or even years.

It all starts innocently enough with a missed mortgage payment. Most banks will usually wait until the second or third missed mortgage before taking legal action. Before the bank can legally foreclosure on a home, they must inform the owner at least 30 days ahead of time. After those 30 days, the bank will file a complaint with the courts.

Once the bank files a complaint with the court system, the homeowner will also get a notice. This is meant to notify the owner of the foreclosed home that the bank has taken legal action. Once the complaint is mailed, the homeowner will have 35 days to respond. If the court does not get a response from the homeowner, then the foreclosure process will continue.

By responding to the court notification, the homeowner gets to appeal the foreclosure process.

The General Equity Judge hears the cases presented by both the bank and the homeowner. Before the banks can repossess the house, the judge has to make a ruling in favor of the banks.

The General Equity Judge for Mercer County is Paul Innes. Depending on evidence put forth by both parties, the court case could take a few months to complete.

Even if the judge rules in favor of the bank, the process is still not over. When the banks try to sell a foreclosed house, they must advertise the home every week for a month in local media outlets, such as newspapers.

After the sale of a home is properly advertised, the bank schedules a sheriff’s sale. A sheriff’s sale is a public auction were foreclosed property is sold. Due to the large amount of home foreclosures in the state, the sheriff’s sale often is pushed back.

At any time during the process, a homeowner could take steps to reclaim their home and stop the banks from repossessing the house. If the late mortgage payments are paid, including late fees, to the bank, then the home is no longer in danger of being taken.

There are other ways as well, including modifying a home loan or refinancing debt. Filing for bankruptcy stops the foreclosure process from going any further. This gives the homeowner time to repay loans.

As stated earlier, New Jersey has one of the highest foreclosure timelines in the nation. This could prove useful for settling late mortgage payments.


For more information about available resources please see the resource guide.


The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, Inc.

Trenton —  (609) 392-0922

                        (609) 396-9355

Princton — (609) 921-2135



This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper

Combating LGBTQ Homelessness with Safe Spaces and Representation

Article written by  David Sanchez

Every year in the United States, thousands of homeless LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) youth live in the shadows, burdened with discrimination and hatred from family and strangers.

A recent study conducted by the Williams Institute found that over 40 percent of homeless, American youth identify within the LGBTQ community.

This astonishing number lends itself to numerous issues faced in the perceptions of LGBTQ youth. The study cited the leading cause of LGBTQ youth homelessness was rejection by family due to gender identity or sexual orientation. Gender identity refers to whether an individual identifies themselves as either male, female, transgender, or somewhere not restricted by the gender binary of male or female; while sexual orientation refers to sexual or romantic preferences of an individual.

Being forced out of home is not the only reality faced by many LGBTQ youth. The study states almost 35 percent will fall victim to sexual, physical or emotional abuse. This leads to a greater dilemma, for the choices are either to stay in a violent or abusive home or to run away and take the chances of survival on the streets.

In Trenton alone the resources needed to combat homelessness are scarce, and even more scarce are safe places where LGBTQ individuals can survive without the threat of violence or rejection.

"Midnight Tree" by Malory C.
“Midnight Tree” by Malory C.

So what fuels anti-LGBTQ sentiment? It does not take long to find hateful and inaccurate representations of the queer community in media. For clarification, queer is an umbrella term used for the LGBTQ community — it was a slur once used against the community to incite hatred, but in recent years has been reclaimed as a term of empowerment.

By turning on the television, it is quick to see episodes of “Jerry Springer” or “Maury” titled, “Tranny Lover,” “Wild Trannies,” or even “My Gay Brother Stole My Boyfriend.” Television shows often depict transsexual and transgender women as prostitutes looking to trick men in an effort to emasculate them. At the same time, gay men are stereotyped as hyper feminine and weak, and often do not have roles other than sassy friends with quick one-liners.

New television shows have given queer individuals a safe space to exist in broadcasting. Shows such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Orange is the New Black” introduce viewers to powerful transgender women.

Laverne Cox, who stars in “Orange is the New Black,” is making national headlines as a powerful actress who is transgender. Because of her new found fame, she has been able to speak to the nation through magazines and other publications on the ability for transgender people to surpass the low expectations held on them by society.

Representation of queer individuals is vital because it is dehumanizing for many when they cannot see themselves on the television screen — that is past the role of either a prostitute or accessory.

Despite the newfound representation of queer individuals in media, violence is still a very real threat against them.

Several studies, as well as one conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, found that one in every 12 transgender individuals will be killed in the United States. In a classroom of 25 kids, that would mean that two of them would be killed because their gender identity does not match the sex they were born into.

There are agencies looking out to curb the violence and tragedy in the queer community in Trenton.

The Triad House is a nonprofit home dedicated to providing a safe place for queer youth. Although the home is funded by the state, it also accepts private donations in order to provide for its occupants. One of these donors is The College of New Jersey’s PRISM group.

PRISM hosts an annual drag show to raise money that will directly benefit the Triad House. Because of the services that the Triad House provides, it is not uncommon to see drag performers or other members of the queer community put on charity events to keep funds flowing into the home.

This past year, PRISM’s event raised several hundred dollars for the Triad House.

As the perceptions surrounding queer youth become more accepting, it is hopeful that the rate of homelessness for this population will decline.

The key method to combat these negative perceptions is to face them head on. Children need to be educated that being gay or transgender does not define who they are as an individual. Just as well, learning that one’s son or daughter is a homosexual does not constitute violence or for them to

be forced out of their home.

When I came out to my father, I was terribly afraid that he would reject me and that made me keep part of my identity hidden from him for years.When I finally came out he said, “You are the son I raised and I will love you no matter who you love.”

When hate is removed from the picture, when love is the motivator behind our actions, we do not have a need for suffering.


Triad House (LifeTies)

1301 W. State Street Trenton, NJ, 08618

(609) 394-6747


Article was originally published in The Wall Fall 2013 edition. 

Change is Coming with the Help of Gandhi Garden

Article written by Alexis McLaughlin


Jonathan Gordon looks upon the garden with certainty, a satisfied grin spread across his face. His labor was well worth the cost.

“We needed a space like this,” said Gordon, still taking in the scene. Weeds six feet high overran this small yard, just one year before. It was another desolate fixture of the Trenton community.

“It was a huge eyesore to the area,” Gordon recalled. Things have since changed — and drastic are the end results.

A yard of weeds, old tires and wooden planks is now an oasis, with vivid murals, fresh produce, and eco-friendliness abound.

Named the “Gandhi Garden” by Gordon and his two partners, Will “KASSO” Condry and Graham Apgar, the goal behind its creation is simple: to create a sense of compassion and community among all who visit.

"Birds in a Tree" by Devona Todd
“Birds in a Tree” by Devonna Todd

Moved by the teachings of activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi (after whom the Garden was named), Gordon, Apgar, Condry, and the rest of the S.A.G.E. (Styles Advancing Graffiti’s Evolution) Coalition designed the Garden in the hopes of inciting change in the Trenton community through “civil disobedience.” The artful, but illegal, graffiti mural of Gandhi along the garden’s grounds is a tribute to this philosophy.

“Be the change you wish to the see in the world” is the Gandhi adage that the founders live by, Gordon said — and one that they hope to spread, through the expansion of the Garden.

“It just benefits so many people on different levels,” Gordon said.

This drive for community is further reflected in the Garden’s architecture, Gordon explains. The designated “artgineer” of the group, Apgar designed the Garden free of gates and archways in order to foster a feeling of accessibility to everyone.

“You always have a feeling of it being open,” Gordon said of the design.

This open atmosphere has brought visitors to the Garden in droves. Carl Washington, a local poet and videographer for the S.A.G.E. Coalition website, cites the many artistic elements as the Garden’s finest feature — both for its quality and the lack of rivalry behind it.

“It’s competitive, it’s a sport,” said Washington about the art. “Everything’s big…sometimes, you get drowned by the greats.”

Yet a competitive edge is not necessary to inspire. With regular musical and theatrical performances along with frequent art shows, Washington is often awestruck by the creativity that immerses the Garden.

This is precisely the effect that Gordon strives for. The Garden, he believes, is a model — one which allows people of “any base and any background” to “build something beautiful out of waste material.”

An avid craftsman for most of his life, Gordon credits the Garden with improving his imagination.

“The project [Garden] has inspired me to be more…creative in what I create,” said Gordon with a smile. Across from him trickles a solar-powered water fountain made from a used tire. “It’s really helped get the creative juices flowing again.”

Others would agree. “To me, it’s just, like, a place of serenity,” said Trenton native Messiah Harrell. A candle maker and woodworker for the past four years, Harrell sees the Garden as the place to go, when he hits a creative or emotional slump.

“It’s a place you can come to, clear your mind, and let fresh thoughts enter,” said Harrell.

"Young Girl in Garden" by Gennie Darisme
“Young Girl in Garden” by Gennie Darisme

The Garden has also gained the attention of Trenton’s more prominent officials. A member of the Cadwalder Place Civic Association, Rachel Cogsville-Lattimer notes the drastic transformation of the land over the past year.

“The area wasn’t beautiful, by any means,” Cogsville-Lattimer asserts. “But now, it is a beautiful area because of the hard work of the S.A.G.E. Coalition.”

Yet the Garden’s beauty, in her view, spans far beyond aesthetics.

“My favorite [part of the Garden] is not only the beautiful location,” Cogsville-Lattimer said, “but the level of respect” that all visitors receive. It is a true show of community — the greatest goal that Gordon and the S.A.G.E. Coalition has aspired to.

“I feel good because I’m using my money to fund a great program,” concluded Gordon.

Homelessness in New York City: The Legacy of Mayor Bloomberg

By Steven P. Rodriguez


A few months ago, Ian Frazier of the New Yorker published an excellent 10 page article on the legacy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy on homelessness in the city. The article makes for an excellent read and presents some very disturbing statistics about the dire situation in New York:

1) More than 1 in 5 New York City residents live below the poverty line

2) Nearly 1 in 5 experiences times of “food insecurity” in the course of a year

3) During Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor, the number of homeless families went up by 73%

The general  thrust of the article centers around the terrible condition of many homeless shelters in the NYC and the lack of available beds. Frazier notes that Bloomberg entered office wanting to change the attitude of homeless people and encourage them to work and take responsibility in exchange for temporary housing.  An especially powerful section of the article appears below:

Then, there’s the other philosophy, which says that it’s not their fault. What the homeless need, this other philosophy says, is a stable place to live, not a system telling them what to do. Once stable housing is achieved, changes in behavior, if necessary, can follow. The problem is not the poor’s lack of character but a lack of places in the city where they can afford to live and of jobs that pay a decent wage. The problem is not inside but outside. No change in personal behavior is going to make rents cheaper. According to this philosophy, the path center’s relentless search for relatives with whom applicants for shelter can double up or triple up just crams more bodies into the too short supply of moderate- and low-income housing in the city, and sends people into unhealthy or even dangerous situations.

Here we see a common stereotype that many people promote unintentionally ; that is, many believe that homelessness is necessarily caused by weak character or pure laziness. Indeed, this may be true in some cases, but the larger problem is the social and economic inequality. Part of The Wall’s mission is to change the way that may people view homelessness. We must acknowledge the causes of homelessness that are structural in nature, and thus beyond the control of the homeless community.

Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor was not without its success in helping the homeless. Frazier notes that in his first term, Mayor Bloomberg was able to improve the decrepit E.A.U Center, the traditional starting place for those seeking shelter, and replaced it with a much more bright and functional PATH center. Additionally, Bloomberg launched a housing subsidy program called Advantage, which helped thousands of families live on their own. Yet, the funding for the program was eventually cut and the families who had gained some sense of independence once again returned to the shelters.

The future of New York City’s homelessness public policy seems bright with the recent election of  Bill de Blasio as mayor. De Blasio has pledged to radically changed many of Bloomberg’s initiatives in favor of more effective policies. It seems that we must wait to find out how successful the new mayor will be.