On Eighth Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, People’s Bill Advances; COVID Impacted Homeowners and Renters Face Tsunami of Evictions

Amendments to bill to prevent mass foreclosures and evictions

TRENTON – The New Jersey Senate today approved a series of amendments to the “People’s Bill,” an unprecedented piece of legislation that would keep families impacted by COVID-19 in their homes by preventing foreclosures and evictions. These amendments set the bill up for final passage in both houses next month. On today’s legislative action, members of the Compassionate NJ collaborative issued the following statements:

“Today is the eighth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, and many of us fought together for rental assistance and mortgage protections to make sure Sandy families could get home and hang on until they got there,” said Amanda Devecka-Rinear, executive director, New Jersey Organizing Project. “It’s fitting that on this day, the Senate took action to protect all New Jerseyans struggling because of the economic impacts of COVID by providing real mortgage and rental relief. Many Sandy families are still struggling to get home and even those who finally made it back, find themselves fraught with the effects of COVID. Our state can, and should learn from all we’ve been through; these protections are critical so our residents can know they will be home for the holidays. We look forward to the bill being approved in final passage in both houses and the governor signing it.”

“We are pleased that the Senate has taken an important procedural step to protect New Jersey residents from massive displacement caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly as this action came on the eighth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which displaced thousands of New Jersey residents,” said Adam Gordon, executive director, Fair Share Housing Center. “Families across the state are still struggling to rebuild from that devastating storm, and the pandemic has only made things much worse. This bill would help them, as well as hundreds of thousands of others who have lost their jobs or seen their hours cut because of the pandemic and now live in fear of losing their homes.”

“COVID isn’t letting up, it is spiking in many of our communities as the winter is approaching,” said Maria López-Nunez, deputy director, organizing and advocacy for Ironbound Community Corporation. “Our Senate took an important step towards making a more compassionate New Jersey. One that protects homeowners and tenants when our homes have become our sanctuary, our children’s classroom, our workplaces and more. Our communities need this bill to reach final passage in both legislative chambers and our governor to sign it.”

“The threat of housing instability in the face of this relentless pandemic looms larger than ever as we head into the winter months,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ. “Housing advocates, working with New Jersey Senate and Assembly leadership, are encouraged that the People’s Bill, S2340, will be considered by the full Senate in the near future. This bill ensures that New Jerseyans who are financially impacted by COVID-19 are able to stay in their homes. We strongly encourage the members of the Senate and Assembly to vote in favor the bill without delay.”

“Citizen Action commends the New Jersey Senate for passing these amendments a critical step toward final passage of the ‘People’s Bill,’” said Beverly Brown Ruggia, financial justice proagram director, New Jersey Citizen Action. “This legislation, so critical to full economic stabilization and recovery for all New Jerseyans who have faced tremendous hardships during the state of emergency, will ensure among other things that residents are able to stay safe at home without fear of eviction, unfair fees, or negative credit reporting.”

According to a report released by the National Council of State Housing Agencies, as of mid-September, 330,000 – 480,000 NJ renters were at risk of eviction. It is estimated that by January 2021, there will 280,000 evictions filings and a $1 billion – $1.3 billion estimated rent shortfall in the state.

The Compassionate NJ campaign is grateful to Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and bill sponsors Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake for today’s action. The campaign urges both houses to move this final version of the bill at the earliest opportunity, and for the Governor to sign it without delay.

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