New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday signed into law an initiative to prevent home foreclosures, with $12.5 million of funds previously allocated to pay down outstanding debt now being used to fund the program.

The new law is one of several bills that lawmakers are working on that will use $125 million of the state's $650 million debt defeasance fund. The plan is to tap into the $650 million fund to help meet such immediate needs as home foreclosures, supporting food pantries, energy assistance, legal aid, and loans to small businesses in an effort to help spur economic development in needy areas.

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