Signed Housing Aid Bill is Key for State Pandemic Recovery

In response to Governor Murphy’s signing of housing protections bill S3691/A5685, New Jersey Citizen Action releases the following statement:

Beverly Brown Ruggia, NJ Citizen Action Financial Justice Program Director:

“Since the outset of the COVID 19 pandemic, advocates have worked with stakeholders and state leaders to keep all New Jerseyans safe in their homes with comprehensive housing protections against foreclosures and evictions. With Governor Murphy’s signing of S3691/A5685, the state reaches a truly welcome and significant milestone in the long struggle to protect all New Jersey tenants and homeowners from losing their homes. However, we have more work to do to stop the looming housing crisis once and for all. HUD-certified housing counselors at NJ Citizen Action are bracing themselves for the end of the eviction moratorium and the projected overwhelming number of families who will be in need of assistance to stay in their homes. It is critical that the polices in this bill are implemented quickly and effectively, and that additional steps are taken, including making more funds available, to achieve the strongest COVID housing protections and recovery possible. With the delta variant infections on the rise, we must recommit to ensuring no one in New Jersey is turned onto the street because of the pandemic.”

 Renee Koubiadis, NJ Citizen Action Anti-Poverty Director:

“With this new law, New Jersey becomes one of only a few states to provide such strong protections and assistance to renters. There will now be an additional $500 million in rental assistance and $250 million in utility assistance. The law additionally converts all unpaid rent between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021 to civil debt, meaning renters can use this rental assistance for either this pandemic debt or for current rent obligations as needed. Also, if renters are contacted for mandatory court settlements for an eviction filed, while they must attend the settlement conference they are not required to settle the case until rental assistance is determined.”

 If you or someone you know is facing eviction or foreclosure, NJ Citizen Action provides free HUD-certified housing, rental, and foreclosure counseling for New Jersey families in both English and Spanish. Due to the pandemic, counseling is currently provided virtually and by phone. For more information go to www.njcitizenaction.org/housing-counseling or call (973) 643-8800 x210.