Star-Ledger: ‘Answer the question, Governor’

Editorial: Answer the question, Governor

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

Gov. Chris Christie isn’t taking the foreclosure crisis in the state seriously, if the video at the top of this page is any indication. That’s the only explanation for his stonewalling hissy fit on Monday when WABC-TV’s Jim Hoffer asked him why the state has been slow to use $300 million in federal aid to help families in foreclosure hang on to their homes. We’re one of 18 states to get these “Hardest Hit” funds, but dead last in using those dollars to actually help people as intended.

The state program that is supposed to administer the funds is the HomeKeeper Loan program. It has yet to live up to the name or its mission to dispense these dollars at a time when we have a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, the second-worst rate only to Florida, and an unemployment rate that threatens to make it worse than it already is.

Christie responded that the moratorium on foreclosures slowed the state down. But that moratorium was to slow down banks rushing through sloppy and inaccurate foreclosure filings, and had nothing to do with how this money was spent. The other states that got the money are way ahead of us in helping their people.

When Hoffer pressed him on it, Christie’s response was to ridicule the reporter, whom he doesn’t recognize, as an ill-informed newcomer. “Don’t show up once in every blue moon and try to dominate my press conference,” he said.

Enough. People are hurting, and the governor is minimizing the problem and his government’s inadequacy in the face of the problem. We deserve answers to why the state has been dragging its feet, not another YouTube moment for the governor.

Assemblymen Jerry Green (D-Union) and Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) have had enough, too. They’ve called for hearings on the foreclosure crisis and the failure of the state to address the problem with the millions set aside specifically for that purpose.

Good. The moment calls for leadership, but Christie apparently prefers to do nothing. We’re glad the assemblymen are stepping forward.