opens in a new windowCaravan of protesters calls on N.J. Senate to pass housing relief bill and prevent mass evictions by Sophie Nieto-Munoz – NJ Advance Media for opens in a new windowNJ.com 09/24/20
Nearly 30 cars drove down West State Street in Trenton Thursday while chanting, honking and playing music to call on the state Senate to pass a housing relief bill that advocates say would help avoid a opens in a new window“tsunami of evictions.”
The “Drive to Survive” took place during Thursday’s Senate session, which didn’t include a vote on the bill, opens in a new windowA4226, referred to by supporters as the “People’s Bill.”https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The measure would offer aid to residents financially hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, including repayment plans for tenants and homeowners, and banning additional charges like late fees and attorney’s fees.
“The situation in our neighborhoods is getting more desperate every day,” said Maria López-Nunez of the Ironbound Community Corporation, a Newark-based group. “Elected officials need to understand the mental and emotional stress that New Jersey families face when there is no plan to prevent evictions come December.”
Early on in the pandemic, Gov. opens in a new windowPhil Murphy signed an executive order known as the “eviction moratorium,” that protects New Jersey residents from being locked out of their homes for nonpayment of rent and runs 60 days after the state of emergency expires. Evictions can still be filed in court, already creating a opens in a new windowmassive backlog of more than 30,000 filings across the state.
An eviction moratorium under the Center for Disease Control also enacts protections through December 31, but it’s opens in a new windowstill unclear what further protections the federal agency’s order provides.
Murphy has voiced his support for the People’s Bill, which passed the full Assembly in July, and vowed to sign it. But it hasn’t been posted for a vote in the Senate, said Staci Berger, president of the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ.
“This pandemic has put tremendous emotional and financial stress on our families, they’re drowning and in desperate need of a lifeline. Our state Senate has to act without delay before our residents get pulled under by the eviction tsunami,” she said in a statement.
Housing advocates have been warning of the impending “eviction tsunami” since the economic fallout of the pandemic became clear. Since businesses were forced to close in mid-March, opens in a new windowmore than 1.6 million New Jersey workers have applied for unemployment benefits, and about 33% of residents struggled to pay household expenses in August, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Studies estimate it would take $3 billion to help all of the Garden State’s struggling renters. Murphy has already said the state can’t afford to forgive rent, pointing to the negative effect it has on landlords.
The state has tried to put some funds toward relief aid: $100 million toward some 8,000 renters, and most recently, a opens in a new window$2.35 milllion grant to provide legal help to New Jerseyans facing eviction. Still, it’s a drop in the bucket and renters continue falling through the cracks, according to the bill’s supporters.https://a65b1e0295034262c9790dd2a612e58e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The Senate Majority Office did not immediately respond to request.