(Update 3/30/23): On February 22, 2023, our Mortgage Forbearance Bill was introduced in the New Jersey legislature! Since bills need to be voted on in both the State Senate and Assembly, there are two numbers that both refer to the same bill: S3640 and A5292 (“S” for Senate and “A” for Assembly). They’re both in committee, which means they’re in front of the people who will eventually vote yes or no on them. On the Assembly side it’s in the Housing Committee, and on the Senate side it’s in the Community and Urban Affairs Committee. We expect in May these will be heard and voted on – until then, stay tuned for more updates! And make sure to sign our petition to tell our representatives we need to pass it.
From big Ida wins to the biggest Sandyversary we’ve had so far, it’s been an amazing year for our Storm Organizing team. And we’re so excited to continue the fight in 2023! Right now, we’re working on two new bills to move things forward for both Sandy and Ida recovery.
Keep in mind that the exact details for both of these bills might change, but for now, the nerdy details for both of them are down below. We already have sponsors for both of these bills – a.k.a., elected officials who are willing to bring these bills to the state legislature and try their hardest to get them passed into law. Now it’s just a matter of writing them, getting them to a vote, and passing them. (It sounds so easy when I put it that way, doesn’t it? If only…)
But to do all of that, we need you, yes you, to step up and work together with us to make this happen. Read on til the end of this post to learn how we can fight to win ourselves a fair recovery.
Disaster Appropriation Bill
Thanks to the ruckus we’ve been making over the lack of Ida money, New Jersey’s Ida survivors are receiving an additional opens in a new window $149 million in CDBG-DR funding for our community’s recovery – now we have $377 million total! This is great news because the original amount we were promised ($228 million) wasn’t nearly enough – it only covered around 60% of what we needed to get every Ida family in New Jersey home and whole.
Even with the extra money, though, there will still be survivors whose needs aren’t fully covered by this program. So here’s our plan: We’re going to ask the state for $100 million more for Ida and $70 million for Sandy as part of one big bill that will cover both storms. We gain strength by joining forces and standing together, and that’s exactly what we plan on doing with this bill.
To help Ida folks recover, we want this money to cover things like:
- Rental assistance funds
- Reimbursement money for contractor work people have already done
- Reimbursement money for lost contents of renters’ and homeowners’ houses
- Funding to buy a new car if your car was lost, to make car payments of a car that was lost, or to pay for repairs if your car was damaged
- Additional, more flexible funding sources for people in different income buckets, special cases, people who don’t fit in federal guidelines
As for Sandy, we still need to forgive clawbacks and let families finally put the storm behind them.
We are working with an awesome lawyer and organizer, opens in a new windowLaura Jordan to write this bill, and Assemblywoman Jaffer (LD16) and Assemblyman Rumpf (LD9) have already agreed to sponsor it on the Assembly side. This is great because Assemblywoman Jaffer is a Democrat and Assemblyman Rumpf is a Republican, making this a truly bipartisan bill!
Mortgage Forbearance Bill
We need to pass a mortgage forbearance bill for Hurricane Ida survivors. This new bill will ensure that Hurricane Ida survivors are entitled to a pause on mortgage payments, sparing us from the massive financial strain of juggling a temporary rental on top of a monthly mortgage on unlivable homes.
A mortgage forbearance was critical in getting Superstorm Sandy families the time and money they needed to get home and whole, so that’s what we’re pushing for a mortgage forbearance for Ida folks now. Senator Singleton (who has been a champion for Sandy families) has already agreed to sponsor this legislation and has even written a draft version of the bill.
As members of our Hurricane Ida team have said, this shouldn’t be something we have to fight for opens in a new windowover and over again, storm after storm – it should be a common-sense step in the recovery process that’s available to all who need it, every time. That’s our long term goal, but for now we need to make sure struggling Ida survivors are able to stay afloat without risking foreclosure.
Our goal with these bills is to help win ourselves the recovery we deserve, and to do so for communities across NJ that have been or will be affected by major storms, past, present, and future. But, in true NJ fashion, here’s the harsh truth: we need two hard commitments from every member of the Storm Organizing team to pull this off (that means you!).
- One: that we will work together to convince our elected officials to get on board with this legislation – that means going to meetings, signing petitions, phonebanking, the works.
- Two: that we will travel to the Statehouse in Trenton to testify on behalf of these bills when they’re up for vote, and get them across the finish line.
This is the kind of work we needed to make all the big Sandy wins from the last eight years happen, and we’re going to need to see the same kind of hard push from each of you to do it again for Ida. This is what making change is all about: nothing about us without us. We are the heroes in our own story and we have the power if we all work together.
Our first step is meeting with key elected officials whose support we will need to get these bills passed – a.k.a. the Representatives in opens in a new windowlegislative districts 14, 15, 19, and 37. All of these meetings will take place starting at the end of January, and we’d love to have you there. If you’d like to join us, please send an email to opens in a new email@example.com.
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