Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-Essex and Passaic) issues statement in response to the Apartment Association accusing her in the press of taking a “combative” approach to drafting the “People’s Bill” which provides relief for COVID-19 economically impacted renters, homeowners, and landlords.
“When a female lawmaker stands up, knows the subject, speaks truth, presents a balanced law as a solution, and says ‘no’ to a powerful organization fighting to solely protect their wealth at the expense of the very renters who ironically are the ones responsible for their fortune, she is labeled ‘combative’.
There are over 15,000 pre-evictions in the state already filed, each waiting for the current protections to expire to evict families. If the Apartment Association has their way, they will decimate their own industry by forcing their COVID-19 financially challenged renters into a mass amount of homelessness and shrink the pool of viable renters in the state by the tens of thousands.
The Apartment Association is on the wrong side of history. This bill is about housing equity and social justice and is fair for landlords, renters, homeowners, and banks.
The bill creates an opportunity for landlords and tenants to work out an affordable repayment plan for missed rent during the State’s Public Health Crisis. ‘The People’s Bill’ increases the landlords odds of collecting on a past due balance while simultaneously increasing the odds for a family to keep a roof over their head. If a landlord simply evicts a tenant, they would have a hard time collecting from someone who is homeless. The bill also increases the odds of landlords and homeowners receiving a fair affordable mortgage forbearance for their COVID-19 hardships, too. Passing the bill would also save the state millions of taxpayer dollars toward the cost of extra social services needed to combat the rise of homelessness and foreclosures.
The Apartment Association is against any measure to regulate their industry for the creation of equity and homelessness prevention. Although I am not opposed to wealth building, I am opposed to the loss of wealth and homes of struggling, working class families of all ethnicities throughout the state due to a global health emergency outside of their control. We cannot allow corporations, who will be wealthy with or without this bill, to receive bailouts, tax write-offs, and low interest loans while families, which are their consumers, struggle to survive. There has to be balance and relief for all.
We have worked with the Apartment Association during a fair process of negotiations on this bill. The bill sponsors and I accepted nearly 75% of their amendments and refused the ones that sought to gut the protections of the state’s most vulnerable renter population. However, this was not good enough for their organization; instead, they want 10 pieces of an 8 piece pie.
The Apartment Association has taken extreme measures to try to convince my colleagues to oppose this bill and to create division amongst landlords, renters, and homeowners with false narratives about tax increases and harm to small landlords, all reminiscent of scapegoating. I came to Trenton to represent the greater interest of the people and to be fair. If that makes me combative, then so be it.”