From the Courier Times:
A controversial housing bill intended to help reduce New Jersey’s glut of foreclosed homes was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie for a third time.
Christie wasted little time in blocking the Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act as he conditionally vetoed the measure Thursday, the same day the Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly voted to send it to him for consideration.
The bill would have directed the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to create a program to purchase foreclosed properties for resale or rent as affordable housing. The bill also sought to extend a moratorium on a state fee on nonresidential development until January 2018.
The fee, which was enacted in 2008 when Democrat Jon S. Corzine was governor, would require developers to set aside 2.5 percent of the cost of any nonresidential project to help towns meet their affordable housing obligations.
Lawmakers, including Christie, froze the fee with a two-year moratorium in July 2009 after the housing market collapsed and sparked a national recession. It was extended another two years in 2011.
In his conditional veto, Christie recommended that the Legislature extend the moratorium again, but he eliminated all language related to the proposed foreclosure program, pointing out that the state already has programs to assist homeowners in danger of foreclosure and that the proposed program requires spending outside the budget.
Christie cited similar reasons when he vetoed bills in January and in June last year.
“The state is committed to helping its citizens avoid foreclosure through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s mortgage foreclosure prevention programs,” Christie said in his latest veto message. “Sending the New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act to me for a third time is not the charm.”
The Foreclosure Transformation Act has been steadfastly opposed by the Steve Lonegan-led conservative group Americans for Prosperity-New Jersey, which has called the measure a bailout for banks and lenders that would damage communities by turning market-rate homes into affordable housing.
Kevin Walsh, associate director of the Cherry Hill-based Fair Share Housing Center, said Christie was being short-sighted with his veto.
“The governor doesn’t care about New Jersey’s foreclosure problem. He would rather people lose their homes than sign a sensible bill that would cost the state nothing,” Walsh said.