‘Drive to Survive’ Presses NJ Senate to Pass Meaningful Pandemic Housing Relief
Advocates call for passage of ‘People’s Bill’ to prevent mass foreclosures and evictions


A caravan of over 30 cars paraded down West State Street in Trenton and in front of the State House today in show of support for legislation that protects homeowners and renters affected by the pandemic. The “Drive to Survive” urged the New Jersey Senate to pass the “People’s Bill,” which aims to prevent mass foreclosures and evictions. The bill passed the New Jersey Assembly but has stalled in the Senate.

“The situation in our neighborhoods is getting more desperate every day,” said Maria López-Nunez, deputy director, organizing and advocacy for Ironbound Community Corporation. “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. We need the ‘People’s Bill’ to restore hope for millions of families.”

Touted by Governor Murphy during his budget address earlier this month, the “People’s Bill” encourages a compassionate rental and mortgage repayment schedule. It also prevents negative credit reporting for debt owed due to the pandemic during the moratorium.

An executive order issued by the governor protects renters and homeowners from being evicted during, and for two months after, the public health emergency. Almost 35,000 eviction orders against tenants have been filed in court since the pandemic began, although the executive order prevents the courts from enforcing them. Without the “People’s Bill,” tens of thousands of NJ residents would see a tidal wave of homelessness and housing insecurity.

“Sandy survivors are still dealing with a disaster from almost eight years ago and we are getting slammed again,” said Beth Torsiello, New Jersey Organizing Project. “Our projects, some which haven't even started yet are once again delayed. Sandy survivors are the experts in being homeless and we cannot let other New Jerseyans fall through the cracks. We need “The People’s Bill” to pass to give everyone a fighting chance.

The U.S. Census Bureau August Housing Pulse Survey found 33 percent of NJ residents—including renters and homeowners—found it difficult to pay for their usual household expenses. These usual expenses include food, rent and mortgage payments, car payments, medical expenses, and student loans, among other things. Unsurprisingly, confidence levels were lower among those with lower household incomes with over half of families making less than $35,000 saying it was difficult to make ends meet. If “the rent eats first,” low-income renters who are currently paying their rent may be able to do so only because they are cutting back and struggling to pay for food, medical care, transportation, and other necessities.

“There's no help coming from Washington, DC any time soon, our best hope for meaningful housing relief rests with the NJ Senate,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer 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.”