New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation to allocate $750 million to help state residents pay their rent and utility bills and create a new office to help tenants find assistance programs.
According to the centersquare.com, Senate Bill 3691/Assembly Bill 5685 phases out the eviction moratorium and provides tenant protections, proponents say. It appropriates $500 million for rental assistance and $250 million in utility payment help.
In response to the passage of S-3691 (Stack, Rice, Ruiz), Senator Brian Stack, D-Union City issued the following statement:
“I have been a tenant advocate all of my life. Therefore, ensuring housing stability, especially for our most vulnerable residents, was my primary goal in drafting this legislation. At the same time, we needed to provide certainty to housing providers who have also been struggling.”
The measure ends the eviction moratorium on August 31, 2001. It also provides additional eviction protections for low- and moderate-income families until December 31, 2021.The bill converts all rental debt accrued from March 2020 through August 2021 into civil debt.
“Converting the rental debt to civil debt was a critical component of this bill because it severely limits the potential for an eviction tsunami,” Stack said in a news release.
“Under this legislation, that debt can never be the basis for an eviction,” Stack added. “Then the rental assistance helps tenants pay past, current, and future rent, which will help tenants dig out of a financial hole, and it will also provide the rent revenue landlords need to operate and maintain their properties.”
The bill also includes credit protections, eviction records protections, and it creates the Office of Eviction Prevention to help tenants apply for, and access, various rental assistance programs. Finally, the bill appropriates $500 million for rental assistance and $250 million in utility payment assistance.
According to Stack, coupled with nearly $600 million the state received in federal rental assistance, New Jersey officials have allocated $1.1 billion toward the cause.
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“The rental assistance in this bill will supplement the state’s current COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP II). Therefore, this bill, coupled with the nearly $600 million we received in federal rental assistance, amounts to $1.1 billion in assistance for those who need it. At the same time, the utility assistance will help New Jerseyans who are struggling to pay their utility bills.”
It’s not about politics
“I want to thank my co-prime sponsors Senator Rice and Senator Ruiz, as well as my Republican colleagues, Senator Oroho and Minority Leader Kean.” Senator Stack went on to say, “This is not about party or politics. It is about doing the job we were elected to do. It’s about finding solutions to problems we never thought we would face. And ultimately, it’s about helping the people of New Jersey when they need it most. That is what we did with S-3691.”
“This landmark legislation is a comprehensive approach toward ending the eviction moratorium, while providing tenant protections and additional rental assistance,” Real Estate NJ quoted New Jersey Apartment Association Executive Director David Brogan as saying.