EAST ORANGE, N.J. -- It's a housing title no one wants -- New Jersey often has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

A new bill would help families keep their homes.

Ezra Turner, 55, knows all too well the pain of losing a home. In 2018, business challenges led to the foreclosure of his Irvington house he was powerless to stop. 

"Once everything was gone, it was just surreal, like wow, we're out, and now we are renting," he told CBS2's Christina Fan.

New Jersey consistently ranks among the states with the highest foreclosure rates: 1 in every 2,564 units.

A coalition of urban mayors on Friday urged the governor to sign a bill that would help families preserve ownership and keep larger investors out.

"As a mayor, we are faced every day here in our city with telephone calls of our residents calling and trying to find ways to keep their homes," East Orange Mayor Ted Green said.

The Community Wealth Preservation Bill would give families a leg up by cutting the required deposit from 20% to 3.5% and give buyers two extra months to pay what they owe.

Five categories of people qualify: the homeowner, the homeowner's next of kin, nonprofit community development corporations,  plus renters and other buyers, who can also bid provided they commit to living in the neighborhood for seven years.

"It puts property ownership back into the hands of community members who really want to live here, who aren't just about extracting the equity from the house and going onto the next one," Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake said.

Timberlake is one of the legislation co-sponsors and says Gov. Phil Murphy's office expressed concerns corporations could form disingenuous nonprofits. But she says a clean-up bill would close those loopholes.

Turner has since been able to purchase a home with his mother and son. He says this legislation would have spared him a long period of heartache.

"This will help a lot of individuals," he said.

CBS2 reached out to Murphy, and his office says he does not comment on pending legislation.


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