Since 1982, New Jersey Citizen Action has worked to address longstanding social, economic, political, and racial inequalities by advocating for and empowering the working families of New Jersey. We fight to ensure New Jersey works for all New Jerseyans, in particular low- and moderate-income families, people of color, and the most vulnerable members of our communities.
Over the course of 40 years, NJCA has been at the forefront of key political victories for health care, financial justice, childcare, housing, education, worker protections and more, and has expanded its free community empowerment services many times over to lift up working families and connect them to the resources they need.
Join us throughout 2022 as we celebrate the leaders, advocates and organizers that helped build NJCA, look back on how New Jersey has changed, and chart a course for the future of NJCA community support and activism.
Snapshots In History
(1/5) For the better part of a century, Social Security has ensured that American seniors maintain a decent quality of life during their retirement years. (2/5) Early in President Bush’s second term, his administration pushed to partially privatize the Social Security System. (3/5) New Jersey Citizen Action opposed the plan due to its reduction in benefits for working class Americans, the exploding of the national debt, and subjected retirement security to the whims of the turmoil economic market. (4/5) On a cold winter’s day in 2005, NJCA planned a protest outside of one of President Bush’s rallies to protest the proposed plan. (5/5) After the mid-term elections of 2006, Democrats had effectively killed the plan to dismantle Social Security. (1/3) New Jersey Citizen Action has been in the fight for lower prescription drug costs since its foundation. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. Big pharmaceutical corporations have raised prices so high that millions of Americans can’t access the affordable medicines needed to treat illnesses, manage their health, and take care of their families. (2/3) NJ For Health Care, a coalition created in 2008, has been a voice for New Jersey health care consumers for over a decade. We’ve worked on a number of issues to advance our core mission of increasing access to quality, affordable health care for all New Jerseyans. We have and will continue to work to build strong alliances with patients, providers and payers across the State to achieve that goal. (3/3) After winning the fight for national health care reform and passing the ACA, New Jersey partners succeeded in getting the Medicaid expansion which now insures over 500,000 working people. Most recently, NJCA fought and won a piece of legislation that caps the cost of drugs at $2,000 per year and will also lower monthly health insurance premiums with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. For more information visit https://njforhealthcare.org/ (1/5) Pictured in these photos are just a few of our efforts throughout the 1990s fighting for universal health care. We believe health care is a human right, not a privilege. (2/5) Everyone should have access to affordable, quality healthcare- regardless of race, income, age, gender identity, or immigration status. New Jersey Citizen Action has been in the fight for Health Care for All since its foundation. (3/5) Over the past 40 years, NJCA has campaigned for Universal Health Care through three main components – public education, grassroot mobilization, and lobbying our elected officials. We have organized events and activities to mobilize people across the state to work on this effort. (4/5) Because of the Affordable Care Act, we have made great progress, but disparities still exist and people of color are more likely to be uninsured. That’s why we work to improve access to quality, affordable, and equitable health care at the State and Federal levels. (5/5) For more information on our current health care priorities, please visit njcitizenaction.org/health-care/. (1/5) NJCA has provided quality housing counseling services since 1995, upon receiving HUD-certiﬁcation as a provider of housing and foreclosure prevention counseling services. Since this time, we have become a leading, trusted provider of free ﬁnancial empowerment services across the state. (2/5) In 2020, NJCA counselors received individual certifications to provide one-on-one counseling. Services are available in all 21 counties across New Jersey. Over 40,000 individuals and families have participated in our housing counseling program since it first began in 1992 and obtained its HUD Certification in 1995. Since this time, more than 16,000 individuals have purchased homes through our program. Pictured above are some images from NJCA’s Free Women’s Housing Initiative events. (3/5) Our track record as a trusted advisor in the Garden State, and our capacity to adapt our comprehensive programs to meet the needs of families during times of crisis, from the Great Recession to Superstorm Sandy to COVID-19, are evidence of our ability to provide services to families working to regain their economic security. (4/5) Our housing counseling services include:
-Pre-purchase counseling for first-time homebuyers
-Foreclosure Prevention Counseling
-General credit and budget counseling
-Home improvement counseling for homeowners
-Predatory lending counseling for victims of fraud, and Rental Counseling (5/5) For more information and to sign up for our free first-time homebuyer webinars please visit njcitizenaction.org/housing-counseling/. (1/3) For decades, NJCA has been working to create better banking products for our members and for the general public. A Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) agreement provides funding for below market mortgages for first time homebuyers, discounted home improvement loans, and funding for non-profit groups to build affordable housing. Over the past 40 years, NJCA has negotiated CRA agreements totaling over $45 Billion dollars. (2/3) If banks fail to live up to their reinvestment responsibilities that would provide funding for low- and moderate-income housing, NJCA will protest, hold informational pickets and press conferences until a more equitable agreement is reached. (3/3) Such was the case when Hudson United Bank refused to sit down with NJCA and negotiate a Community Reinvestment Agreement with specific monetary goals to provide affordable housing. NJCA picketed outside of several Hudson United Bank locations to fight for reinvestment in the community in which these banks operate. (1/3) Throughout 1995 and 1996, NJCA led the fight to save Paterson’s Lead Paint Law. (2/3) Despite pressure from special real estate interest groups, was able to quickly mobilize and convince Paterson’s City Council to not repeal the law aimed at lead abatement laws and ensured that all lead paint abatement be performed by properly trained and certified contractors. (3/3) Additionally, a coalition of organizations spearheaded by NJCA took decisive action to pass the Universal Lead Screening Act into law, requiring all health insurance policies to cover lead poisoning testing and treatment with no deductible and no copayments required. (1/2) Following the disastrous March 24th, 1989 Exxon oil spill in Valdez, Alaska, NJCA activists led a demonstration at the Exxon Stockholder meeting on May 18th. In Parsippany, organizations rallied to demand Exxon be held responsible for all clean up costs, sign a pledge to stop oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, use safer tankers, and establish a $1 billion trust fund for Alaska to pay for any and all future environmental damage there. (2/2) NJCA founding member John Atlas addresses the crowd of over 300 people, representing numerous environmental and citizen groups, quoted saying “Americans know they are being cheated…. Exxon has double crossed the public and the environment by not being adequately prepared for the disaster and then charging the consumer to pay for the clean up”. (1/2) On April 10th, 1985, NJCA hosted a Healthcare Rally in Cranford, NJ with Senator Frank Lautenberg attended by over 300 senior citizens and community leaders. NJCA Healthcare Coalition asked Sen. Lautenberg to oppose all Reagan era cuts in cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for social security recipients, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. (2/2) On July 31, 1985, after months of intense debate, the U.S. Congress passed a budget that left the Social Security COLA, Medicare and Medicaid intact. These victories were only possible after months of rallies and press events by organizations like NJCA. (1/3) Leading up to the 1984 Election, NJCA helped to establish a coalition of community partners and faith-based organizations throughout the state to drive voter registration in underserved communities throughout New Jersey. (2/3) Much of this initiative was organized and driven by Alma Hill, an early leader of NJCA and its board of directors’ co-chair.
“We have to show people how to mobilize and empower themselves, how to educate other and how to use their power for positive change.” – Alma Hill (3/3) “I was so impressed that they (NJCA) wanted to include the church in the early stages – when they were still planning their issues. We are such a diverse group of people in NJCA. And to have such a diverse group of people who are on the firing line. They really are all active people and participating in their jobs and in their communities. They want to see justice done, for everybody, not just the few.” – Alma Hill To campaign for new tax revenues in NJ be raised from wealthy taxpayers, NJCA hosted a Citizen’s Conference for Fair Taxes and Fair Budget, drawing more than 250 community and union activists.
On December 20th, 1982, NJCA was victorious in passing the Fair Share Tax Reform, despite the veto from Governor Kean. The bill prevented $150 million in state and local budget cuts that would have included cutting back on road repairs, reduced aid to schools and cities, lay-offs of state workers and teachers and increased mass transit affairs. (1/3) Following a period of deregulation of chemical companies from the Bush and Reagan administrations and failure to act on a national level, local grassroots organizations across the country campaigned to fight against toxic contamination. (2/3) In response to this crisis, NJCA and a broad-based coalition enacted a months-long campaign involving letter-writing, media and organizing, and a statewide lobbying event to pass a resolution on cleaning up toxic chemicals in New Jersey. (3/3) NJCA was successful in advocating for passage of the Right to Know bill, phasing-out the use of landfills for storage of hazardous waste, reducing hazardous waste generation, expansion of Superfund money for toxic waste cleanup, and improving worker protection from toxic substances. On March 15th, 1984 NJCA, alongside more than 700 citizens from over 60 different communities overwhelmed the NJ Statehouse on “Taking Back Trenton” Day. NJCA called for the passage of:
The Job Retention Act requiring large companies to give 6-months’ notice of plants closing, mandatory severance pay, and health benefits to those left unemployed;
The Tax Appeal Reform Act to qualify the majority of NJ’s taxpayers for an income tax credit;
The Comparable Worth Pay Act to compare wages paid for male-dominated jobs with those paid for female-dominated jobs;
The Pesticide Control Act to promote the safe use of chemical pesticides in NJ.
The year NJCA was founded, the organization’s first newsletter was released. Take a look back with us to October 1982 to see where we started and how far we’ve come: