Housing Advocates Call for Foreclosure, Eviction Moratorium and Other Steps to Address Housing Impacts During the COVID-19 Pandemic
State leaders should prevent a public health crisis from becoming a housing crisis


Community developers and housing advocates today called on New Jersey’s public officials to enact measures that ensure housing stability for lower income residents who may be unable to pay their rent or mortgage as the COVID-19 pandemic widens throughout the Garden State. The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) said it is essential that the state use the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, when thousands of families were displaced.

“We know what a natural disaster means for families living on the edge of poverty. We already have a severe shortage of affordable homes in New Jersey, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents an enormous threat to lower wage earners who are at risk of losing their homes. School closings, disruptions in childcare and other important preventative measures that are crucial to the health of our communities and neighbors will mean a lot of folks will not be able to pay their rent or mortgage,” said Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “When people miss work because of illness, isolation or the need to care for others, they are at risk for housing instability.”

The Network provides the following recommendations in the event of a protracted disruption in workplace activity, schools, and government services:

  • Preventing foreclosure: Officials should enact mechanisms to proactively prevent foreclosures, including a foreclosure moratorium and a mortgage forbearance program. Community and housing leaders worked with the New Jersey’s Legislature to enact a forbearance program for Superstorm Sandy survivors, but it took nearly three years to win support from Gov. Chris Christie. NJ’s economy is still feeling the lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis, because the Christie Administration waited so long to provide much-needed relief. All avenues of preventing additional foreclosures, including a moratorium and enacting mortgage modifications should be pursued immediately, including having financial institutions amortize payments over existing mortgage terms.

  • Eviction moratorium: A statewide halt on evictions would ensure that residents are able to stay in their home in the event of an extended work stop or illness. This not only protects the resident but also enables individuals and families affected by pandemic to recover in their home without fear of displacement, thereby exposing others.

  • Emergency renter support: The Murphy administration and State Legislature can take proactive steps to provide additional rental assistance to those with a hardship due to a work stoppage or illness.

  • Expanding sick leave law: To avoid an individual from using all of their sick time due to family care, the state should expand its sick leave laws during the public health crisis.

The pandemic hits New Jersey amid newly released data showing there is a shortage of 217,640 affordable and available rental homes for the 301,079 extremely low income (ELI) renter households statewide. The data, published in a new report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, released in this week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Network, shows how difficult it is for low-income renters to find homes that are affordable in the current rental market.

“Gov. Murphy, Lt. Gov. Oliver, Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin have been working hard to address the state’s housing affordability crisis by fully funding the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and expanding resources to address the childhood lead poisoning crisis. We know they are concerned about families who are living pay check to pay check. We look forward to their leadership to help New Jerseyans keep their homes amid this public health crisis. Ensuring safe and affordable homes helps address this pandemic,” Berger said.

She noted that the Network will be convening a series of virtual meetings for its leaders and members to identify challenges and promote policy solutions. Individuals and families experiencing an immediate housing crisis should call 211, the state’s 24-hour emergency hotline, for assistance.

About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.

For more information:
Nina Rainiero
(609) 393-3752 x1200
Website: hcdnnj.org
Twitter site: twitter.com/hcdnnj
Facebook site: facebook.com/hcdnnj