The People’s Bill Aims to Prevent Mass Displacement of New Jersey’s Minority Homeowners
New Jersey’s Assembly Housing Committee has approved legislation to prevent a wave of foreclosures and evictions now that the CARES Act protections have expired. This legislation is touted as the nation’s strongest set of standards aimed at keeping families struggling financially due to COVID-19 in their homes.
New Jersey’s Assembly Housing Committee has approved legislation to prevent a wave of foreclosures and evictions as the CARES Act protections expire. This legislation is touted as the nation’s strongest set of standards aimed at keeping families struggling financially due to COVID-19 in their homes.
The CARES Act was passed by President Trump in March and, among other things, it put a pause on foreclosures and evictions. However, even with some CARES Act protections extended to the end of August, many fear a wave of mass evictions and foreclosures when homeowners and renters are asked to begin monthly payments or, in some cases, pay a lump sum of missed payments when these protections expire.
The bill, A4226, dubbed The People’s Bill, is aimed at protecting New Jersey’s lowest-income and most vulnerable residents. “Throughout this crisis, New Jersey Citizen Action has heard from people daily who are terrified they will not be able to pay their rent or their mortgages and that they will lose their homes when the eviction moratorium ends,” Beverly Brown Ruggia, Financial Justice Organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action told Insider NJ. “This legislation addresses the deep economic pain New Jerseyans are experiencing and it recognizes people of color in the state have been disproportionately hurt by the COVID 19 crisis. It provides a sound and compassionate economic recovery for all in New Jersey.”
The People’s Bill establishes fair repayment options by offering renters additional time to make up missed payments while not negatively affecting their credit scores, and by allowing homeowners to add missed payments to the backend of their mortgage term.
In New Jersey, where the unemployment rate is 16.6 percent (11.1 percent above the United States as a whole) and rent is among the most expensive in the natation, affordable housing is essential to the long term health of the community. Staci Berger, President and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said in testimony in support of the People’s Bill, “The pandemic has affirmed what community leaders and health experts have been saying: housing is health”
Wilda Diaz states in the article Legislators Must Quickly Pass Bills to Keep People in Their Homes, “The economic shutdown has hurt people of color who live in Perth Amboy the hardest.” She continues, “Seventy percent of our residents are Hispanic. Latino workers are more likely to work in service jobs that have evaporated as their businesses have been ordered closed and as people have been asked to remain at home.”
Protecting New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents is one way the state can work to resolve long-time systemic racial injustices. Berger states, “Helping to protect generational wealth by providing tools for homeowners of color, and protecting renters, who are much more likely to be Black and Latino, to protect against evictions and prevent negative credit scores, is an urgent matter of racial injustice.”
Legislation like the People’s Bill in New Jersey may provide the central element needed to help flatten the curve of this pandemic: safe and affordable housing.