Victories

New Jersey Citizen Action is proud of what we were able to accomplish. With the support of our Board, Affiliates, activists, donors, funders and other partners we:

2015

Forced Governor Christie to include $10 million in lead funding in state’s FY2016 budget, thanks to #LeadFreeKidsNJ Campaign — launched by NJCA with Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and other advocates. This means budget for lead containment and abatement programs for low and moderate income New Jerseyans.  No funding for abatement programs and emergency relocation funding, which was included in the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Program, has been appropriated since Christie took office in 2009.

Brought NJ one step closer to Pay Equity, with Time to Care Coalition partners building bi-partisan support for passage of the NJ Pay Equity Act, which would help women uncover wage discrimination and have stronger case in court to get back pay they were previously denied.  The legislation is now on the Governor’s desk.  NJCA and the Time To Care Coalition stand ready to fight for Pay Equity if Governor Christie vetoes the bill.

Led the fight for Paid Sick Day, working with Time To Care Coalition and NJ Working Families, resulting in a dozen municipalities adopting their own Paid Sick Day legislation, in the absence of a state law that mandates it for all of New Jersey’s workers.  To date these municipalities have adopted their own Paid Sick Day legislation: Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Irvington, Paterson, Trenton, Montclair, Bloomfield, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, and Plainfield most recently.

Helped pass the first responsible banking ordinance (RBO) in the state, working with Essex County officials.  RBOs require banks to compete for local public deposit and/or custodial accounts by demonstrating that they are investing and providing banking services equitably and with commitment in the communities where they do business.

Increased access to sound lending products and banking services available for low- and moderate- income people and communities of color and for small businesses in New Jersey, by working with banks — BB&T, Investors, Valley National, Santander, M&T — to strengthen their CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) plans and practices and expand pathways to financial stability and well being for customers in New Jersey.

Protected and divested millions of state pension funds from illegal payday lenders. Payday lending is  illegal in New Jersey due to high annual interest rates well beyond the state’s usury cap, trapping predominantly minority borrowers into an endless cycle of debt.  Working with the NJ-NAACP, Communities United, Black Issues Conference NJ and other advocates – NJCA pressured and convinced the NJ State Investment Council to divest millions of state pension dollars from Ace Cash Express, a payday lending company that was acquired through a hedge fund.  NJCA and advocates also blocked an additional $150 million from being invested in same hedge fund company

Fought for consumers who were unfairly burdened by surprise medical bills.  While the advocacy work of NJ For Health Care Coalition, convened by NJCA, did not conclude with the passage of the “Out-of-Network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act (S20/A4444),” the coalition gained a powerful ally. Consumer Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports, signed on as a coalition partner and co-published with NJ For Health Care the report “Surprise Medical Bills,” which documented the debilitating impact of out-of-network medical bills on New Jersey consumers.

2014

Passed more municipal paid sick days laws than any other state in the nation, ensuring 120,000 New Jersey workers can better balance work and family responsibilities. Late in the year, with the strong support of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, we also helped advance strong statewide legislation in the New Jersey Assembly that is a model for the nation.

Held Governor Christie accountable by bringing attention to corporate tax giveaways, Bridgegate, Sandy relief, health care reform, and home foreclosure by organizing grassroots protests outside more than 15 Town Hall meetings.

Educated and enrolled state residents in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in one of the most successful statewide efforts in the nation. As of this month, more than 500,000 residents have enrolled in Medicaid or ACA Marketplace health plans, reducing the state’s uninsured by 46%.

Pressured Governor Christie and the Economic Development Authority to release almost $100 million in unspent Sandy relief funds meant for small business owners struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Protected Newark’s health care by putting a freeze the sale of St. Michael’s Hospital to Prime Health Care Corporation, a deal that would saddle taxpayers with nearly $200 million in debt and jeopardize access to affordable, quality health care in Newark. The delay gives the NJ Department of Health the opportunity to re-shape the deal with Prime and opens the door for other, more responsible buyers for this struggling community hospital; and

Empowered more than 12,000 low and moderate income individuals and families through our free housing and foreclosure counseling, tax preparation, and financial education programs: we provided foreclosure counseling to over 1,000 homeowners facing foreclosure, securing more than $26 million in assistance through the NJ HomeKeeper program; we prepared 4,216 returns for low-income workers, helping them receive nearly $7 million in refunds; and we coordinated and conducted 125 workshops for over 6,000 individuals across NJ as a HUD-designated Fair Housing Agency.