Groundbreaking COVID-19 Renter and Homeowner Protections Passes NJ Assembly with Bipartisan Support

The New Jersey Assembly today voted with bipartisan support to approve legislation which provides protections from foreclosure and eviction for COVID impacted homeowners and tenants. On the bill’s passage, members of the Compassionate NJ collaborative issued the following statements:

“Rents and mortgages are due again on Saturday, and although there’s a moratorium on evictions and other short-term protections in place, the obligation to pay remains,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ. “For many residents, it’s another month of falling behind, heightening financial and emotional stress during this unprecedented pandemic and economic downturn. It is impossible for people to socially distance and stay home if they are homeless or housing insecure. ‘The People’s Bill’ protects public health by helping people keep a roof over their heads. We urge the Senate to pass it without delay.”

“We applaud the New Jersey Assembly for passing the People’s Bill, which will help prevent a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures as we struggle to beat back and recover from the COVID pandemic,” said Beverly Brown Ruggia, financial justice organizer, NJ Citizen Action. “The legislation also ensures that landlords and banks get paid by giving tenants and homeowners a payment plan that is both compassionate and realistic. This bill is especially critical for communities of color, who have been devastated financially by the pandemic and face even more hurdles thanks to the Trump administration, which recently rescinded the federal Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. We urge the New Jersey Senate to pass companion legislation at their very next session so the People’s Bill can be signed into law as soon as possible.”

“This is an amazing moment as the People’s Bill has passed the Assembly and now the ‘judgement bill,’ as Asw. Timberlake referred to it as, goes to the Senate”, said Maria Lopez-Nunez, deputy director of Ironbound Community Corporation. “It is time for our senators to show us if they are for people or for profit. We trust that there will be no more weakening of this bill and it will be passed swiftly to ensure no homeowner or renter is underwater.”

“This bill is a lifeline to people like me,” said Jeff Quattrone, advocate, New Jersey Organizing Project. “I’m unemployed, and I haven’t received my benefits yet. Going without money coming in for an unknown period of time is daunting. To see the state take action to help its residents in this unprecedented time of need is a good example of how government works for the people.”

“The State Assembly has taken much needed action in passing A4266/A4034 to ensure New Jersey families can remain in their homes during the worst pandemic we have faced in over a century,” said Adam Gordon, executive director, Fair Share Housing Center. “We thank in particular bill sponsor Asw. Britnee Timberlake for her committed leadership and tireless work to get this legislation done. We also thank Housing Committee Chair Asm. Benjie Wimberly, the other co-sponsors of this legislation, and Speaker Coughlin, Majority Leader Greenwald and their leadership team for their support in advancing the legislation. We call on the Senate to act immediately to pass this crucial bill to allow for Governor Murphy’s signature.”

Hundreds of thousands of low and moderate income New Jersey families are depending upon the full passage of A4266/S2340/A4034. The legislation protects families unable to make up several months’ rent from being evicted and provides forbearance to those who are unable to immediately meet their mortgage payments.

After the coronavirus economic shutdown, many New Jersey workers lost their income through no fault of their own. While eviction and foreclosure moratoriums have kept such families housed for now, their expiration looms and threatens to bring about a tragic surge in homelessness and displacement. Without this legislation, New Jersey would see a surge in homelessness and housing insecurity unseen in our history. As of now, approximately 450,000 households are unable to pay their August rent.

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