FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 11, 2008

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419
Tom Plante, 908-527-4746


Union County Task Force Convenes to Address Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis


ELIZABETH, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders convened the first meeting of the Union County Foreclosure Task Force on Tuesday, December 9, to address the impact of the mortgage foreclosure crisis and generate support for neighborhood stability in the county.

The two-hour meeting at the Union County Administration Building was attended by more than two dozen municipal and county officials plus representatives of various foreclosure counseling agencies that are certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“The County of Union recognizes that the national economic slump effects everyone in Union County and we have a responsibility to work together to manage the mortgage foreclosure crisis in our communities,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “Union County’s Foreclosure Task Force is an important cooperative effort aimed at stabilizing our neighborhoods and helping residents to remain in their homes.”

The Task Force meeting was co-chaired by Frank Guzzo, Director of the Union County Department of Human Services, and Alfred Faella, Director of the Department of Parks and Community Renewal.

In addition to municipal representatives from the cities of Elizabeth and Plainfield, and the townships of Union and Hillside, there also were representatives at the meeting from counseling agencies, including Brand New Day from Elizabeth; Faith, Bricks and Mortar from Plainfield; the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless; the Urban League of Union County; and Central Jersey Legal Services.

Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, whose office records and files all property transactions within the county, including mortgages, liens and foreclosures, spoke of how the pre-foreclosure rate had been stable for 20 years before the increase in lis pendens foreclosures began in 2007.

Other speakers discussed the need for more housing counselors, the overwhelming number of problem loans, the need for more flexibility from loan institutions, and the need for more education about mortgages and the foreclosure process as the nation experiences a credit crisis and increasing unemployment.

The Task Force agreed that the next step in the process is the creation of four working groups. These groups will focus on community outreach and education; counseling support; research into policy and legislation for neighborhood stabilization; and legal resources to support tenants and assist families displaced from their homes.

The ultimate goal of the Task Force, according to Human Services Director Guzzo, is “to form a complete package” that would include programs and activities that prevent unnecessary foreclosures and that help Union County residents faced with foreclosure to achieve the best possible housing and credit outcomes.

For links to information about foreclosures, visit the Union County Clerk’s web site at