Category Archives: Policy

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

Paris: Are We There Yet

“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.”

― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

By Tiffany Teng


In the spring of 2012, I studied abroad for 4 months in the elegant, romantic city of Paris.

Paris has long been touted as a conflation of the elite and the beg­gars, ever since the French Revolu­tion sparked a rebellious, Bohemian culture in Paris.

Every morning, as I walked to and from my host mom’s apartment, I passed dozens of rough sleepers. “Rough sleepers” are homeless people who sleep in the streets or metro sta­tions because they have nowhere else to go.

Outside of Mercer County, home­lessness prevails internationally.

Researchers and policymakers created International Alliance to End Homelessness in March 2011 ( In just two years, they have measured the best practices in policies revolving targeting, creating homeless systems, migration, accessing main­stream assistance and outcomes.

In recent years, the French gov­ernment has begun to resolve this devastating issue. It has been one of the government’s main priorities since 2007, met with much political debate and bureaucratic red tape. However, in a city where homelessness has become a stitch in the culture, the legal actions to remove rough sleepers and create more accessible homeless shelters have not led to dramatic results.

Meanwhile, the disparity between the rich and the poor is devastating—homeless men beg for scraps right be­side the most luxurious shops selling imported Spanish ham and diamond-encrusted handbags. Entire families panhandle and gypsies are ready to pickpocket the nearest tourist.

On any given night, there are between 2,000 and 15,000 homeless in Paris, according to The Economist. In October 2012, this number was ap­proximately 12,000, with the youngest population of rough sleepers the city had ever seen.

There was a young man with a large dog that I passed every day on my way to the Bastille metro station. He lived in a nook in the wall that used to be a fountain and was now a protective cave shielding him and his dog from the harsh winter winds. Each day, I would smile, give a little wave, and he would respond with “Salut!” If he were not there, I would wonder where he was and felt as though some­thing was missing. I worried for him, and wished there was something more I could do. After all, since the first day I met him and asked to take his photo­graph, we had become friends—in the way that only two complete strangers can become friends from sharing one serendipitous moment.

One year later, I wonder where he is and how he is coping. I hope he found a permanent home so he can move on with his life and do all the wonderful things young people have the potential to do.

Living on the streets on a few dol­lars a day without food or shelter, let alone good hygiene and health, takes a toll on physiological and safety needs, and develops psychological problems within an individual.

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate reached a 13-year high in 2012 at 10.2% and rising, according to Reuters. The French public blames bureaucracy and centralization, but the reality is that homelessness can be eliminated through a series of measured steps and thorough policy-making.

Until then, rough sleepers will con­tinue to call Parisian streets “home.”

Even the wealthiest cities in the world suffer from homelessness—un­derneath the glamour and romance, Paris reveals a bitter truth and offers its streets as a default home for thou­sands every night.

Lasting Impact of “Million Dollar Murray”

By Steven Rodriguez


For millions of homeless Ameri­cans, the concept of having a place to call home is central to escaping the vicious cycle of poverty. While the over 2.3 million homeless in this country are often thought of as one large group, there are important sub-groups, which include veterans, youths, families, as well as the chroni­cally homeless. The National Alliance to End Homelessness defines the later group as those suffering from “…long-term, or repeated homelessness, often coupled with a disability.”

One of the chief challenges to federal programs has been determin­ing the best strategies to combat the widespread issue of chronic homeless­ness. In recent years, the approach has focused on long-term housing pro­grams for the chronically homeless, in addition to the overnight shelters that make up the safety net. This shift was very much influenced by Mal­colm Gladwell’s widely-read article “Million Dollar Murray” in The New Yorker, which states that the chroni­cally homeless (the minority) are actu­ally the most important group to focus on. These end up costing hospitals and shelters tens of thousands of dol­lars, while these expenses rarely have any enduring benefit to the homeless person. Plans had to shift away from maintaining people in this cycle to ending it through housing programs that provide long-term stability.

Federal: Some of the key federal programs include the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assis­tance Grants, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid. Despite the economic recession of 2008, addi­tional funding for homelessness was created under President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

Mercer County: As the Executive Director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, Herb Levine has been working to find ways to end homeless­ness in the Trenton area. Levine says his organization is able to work with various groups and agencies within the state, county and community to identify and plan to distribute funds in an efficient and collaborative man­ner. This “complex web of funding sources” as he described it, is primar­ily a mix of federal, state and county grants. A smaller percentage is gath­ered from the United Way and local businesses.

While this money is distributed amongst a number of programs, in­cluding various homeless shelters, the chief focus is providing housing vouchers and service for the chroni­cally homeless.

In this area, the Alliance has been quite successful, with Greater Trenton Behavioral Health Care moving 85 people into apartments, with plans to provide 60 more housing vouchers to community agencies in the near future. Levine noted that homeless­ness has remained relatively steady in Mercer County, a positive contrast to the gradually rising national figures.

While goals to end chronic home­lessness in the United States in the next decade or so may seem a bit lofty, there are signs of real progress; com­munities across the U.S. are engaging their citizens to do their part and help to combat the issue, government fund­ing has remained steady, and more people are starting to understand the scope of this problem.

Ultimately, the battle against home­lessness returns to the idea of having a home. A home provides a sense of identity and stability that is central to a sustainable lifestyle. It is this end goal that all federal, state, and local policy strives to achieve.