2018-19 State Legislative Policy Priorities

Click here for a downloadable version of the Network's Policy Priorities. View our 2018 federal policy priorities here.

The lack of affordable homes in New Jersey harms our residents and stifles our economy. This situation was made worse by Superstorm Sandy. Vacant properties hamper the revitalization efforts of communities, and the foreclosure crisis continues to obstruct our state’s economic recovery. We have a simple solution: start with the basics of making sure everyone can afford to call New Jersey home. To "Build a Thriving New Jersey," we need to build homes we can afford, and revitalize the communities where we work and live through the following:

Tools to help produce more affordable homes for lower income families:

  • "New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act." (A2115/S1584) sponsored by Asm. Green/Jasey and Sen. Cruz-Perez/Singleton. This bill creates the "NJ Foreclosure Transformation Program" as a temporary program within the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (“HMFA”) for the purpose of purchasing foreclosed residential properties from institutional lenders and dedicating them for occupancy as affordable homes. Passed Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 12.10.18.
  • Create new financing mechanisms (A2127/S1482) sponsored by Asm. Mukherji and Sen. Singleton. $600 million in tax credits available to developers to construct affordable, mixed-income housing developments in low income neighborhoods.
  • Increase relocation assistance based on the increase of the CPI (A2109/S331) sponsored by Asw. Jasey and Sen. Cruz-Perez. Relocation assistance has not increased since 1972! This bill provides for a 4.5-fold increase in all of the statutory assistance amounts over two years, and for the indexing of the amounts to changes in the CPI-U beginning 36 months after the effective date of the bill.
  • Land Banking (S1214/A3797) sponsored by Sen. Ruiz and Asw. Jasey. Permits municipal land banking in conjunction with online property database development. Passed Assembly Commerce and Eco. Dev. Committee 9.13.18.  Passed Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 12.10.18.
  • Establishes additional $75 county recording fees to increase funding to the "New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF)." (A3474) sponsored by Asw. Vainieri Huttle
  • Require all new residential development consisting of 20 or more apartments to reserve at least 20 percent of the apartments for low or moderate income housing for at least 98 years. (A4414/S3056) sponsored by Asw. Timberlake and Senator Gill.

Preserve the State Budget and Production Funding: The State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) was level-funded in this year’s budget, despite a tremendous need for more rental vouchers. The state budget should fund the rehabilitation and construction of homes that are affordable to low and moderate income residents, and not use the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to fill budget gaps. The Network will continue to advocate for increased funding for SRAP, preserve housing production dollars and expand the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program (NRTC) as part of our campaign to “Build a Thriving NJ” with a $600 million annual investment in housing and community development.

Ensure an Equitable, Sustainable Sandy Recovery: The Network will continue to partner with our allies to advocate that federal Sandy recovery funds address the critical housing needs of people who were impacted by the storm.

  • Reimbursement payments to Superstorm Sandy-impacted homeowners subjected to contractor fraud (A4529/S3191) sponsored by Asm. Mazzeo/Sen. Van Drew.  Passed Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee 12.3.18
Reduce the Impact of Foreclosures and Address Problem Properties: NJ continues to be one of the states with the worst foreclosure problems. To solve this persistent crisis, we support the following initiatives: 
  • Foreclosure Prevention Funding: (A2123S2906) sponsored by Asw. Sumter and Sen. Singleton. Creates a Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Revolving Trust Fund; places temporary surcharge on mortgage foreclosure complaints. The fund will be financed through a temporary $800 surcharge placed on each foreclosure complaint filed in the State. DCA shall provide up to $500,000 from the fund to train qualified vendors to provide training to local governments and non-profit entities undertaking neighborhood stabilization efforts. Following these disbursements from the fund, the next $10 million collected during the fiscal year shall be allocated to qualified non-profit entities for the purpose of maintaining or expanding their foreclosure prevention programs.
  • Codifies and funds the Foreclosure Mediation Program (A664/S1244) sponsored by Asw. Jasey and Sen. Rice. This bill also dedicates monies from foreclosure filing fees and fines to administer the program. Passed the Assembly Housing and Community Dev. Committee 10.22.18.
  • Revises residential mortgage foreclosure process (S742/A3667) sponsored by Sen. Diegnan and Asw. Jasey. This bill requires a servicer who files a foreclosure complaint to tell the homeowner about all possible assistance to help them avoid foreclosure and provide a single point of contact to help them through the process. 
  • Hold Creditors responsible for Non-residential buildings (S1422/A3217) sponsored by Asm. Andrzejczak/Land and Senator Van Drew. Requires creditors to maintain vacant and abandoned non-residential properties under foreclosure.
  • Hold Creditors responsible for building interiors. (S1423/A3216) sponsored by Asm. Andrzejczak/Land and Senator Van Drew. Requires creditors to maintain the interior of vacant and abandoned residential properties under foreclosure.
  • Creates Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program (S1145/A3430) sponsored by Sen. Singleton and Asw. Murphy. Creates a pilot program that allows homeowners with negative home equity, and who are in default of a mortgage owned by the agency, to lower the remaining principal owed on the mortgage to an amount more reflective of current market realities. This will occur in exchange for conveying an equity share in the property to the agency. Passed Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee 6.25.18
  • Moratorium on certain foreclosures and places additional requirements for foreclosure (A3119/S2605) sponsored by Asw. Tucker and Sen. Ruiz. Grants a six-month forbearance to pursue a mortgage settlement. Passed Assembly Housing Committee 3.5.18.
  • Promote the ability of community residents to purchase a foreclosed home as their primary residence. (A4412/S2993) sponsored by Asw. Timberlake and Sen. Gill. Revises sheriff’s procedures for residential mortgage foreclosure sales in order accomplish this.
  • Urges rehabilitation of Abandoned Properties (A4354/S2882) sponsored by Asw. Murphy/Sen. Rice. Requires municipal accounting of abandoned properties before receiving certain State aid; establishes State database of abandoned properties; requires owners of abandoned properties to document rehabilitation efforts.

Protect People Experiencing Homelessness:

  • Allows individuals to receive additional lifetime emergency assistance under certain circumstances (A1887/S1965) sponsored by Asw. Muoio/Mukherji and Sen. Sweeney. This bill would require that the Commissioner of Human Services nullify any months of emergency assistance that were received by an individual more than 84 months (seven years) prior to an application for emergency assistance. Passed both houses 12.17.18. Awaiting action by the Governor.  
  • Allows a County to increase the surcharge for County Homeless Trust Funds (A1918/S773) sponsored by Asm Mukherji, Asw. Chaparro and Sen. Cunningham/Cruz-Perez/Stack. Permits up to seven dollar increase in surcharge for document recordation with county in support of county homelessness housing trust funds.
  • Establishes a Code Red and improves Code Blue. (A4566/S3121) sponsored by Asw.  Huttle and Senator Greenstein.
  • Establishes Security Deposit Assistance Pilot Program in Union, Essex, Hudson, and Gloucester counties, appropriates $210,000 (A1746) sponsored by Asw. Quijano /Chaparro. To help very low income renters who don’t have the savings for a security deposit get a new apartment.
  • Extends Emergency Assistance for certain individuals - caretaker of disabled dependent, permanently disabled, over 60 or chronically unemployable (S866/A3294) sponsored by Sen. Sweeney/Vitale/Ruiz. Signed into law 12.20.18. P.L.2018, c.164.
  • Directs Adjutant General to enter into agreements with legal service organizations to provide legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness. (S2525/A4022) sponsored by Sen. Singleton and Asm. Armato. Passed Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 10.15.18
  • This bill establishes guidelines for determining creditworthiness of applicants seeking to rent affordable home. (S1939/A1869 ) sponsored by Sen. Turner.

Foster Healthy Homes:

  • Requires municipalities to conduct lead paint inspections in one and two family rental units (A1876/S856) sponsored by Asw. Muoio and Asm. Gusciora and Sen. Turner/Rice/Weinberg.
  • Requires a lead paint inspection prior to home sale and rental turnover (A1877/S1212) sponsored by Sen. Ruiz and Asm. Holley.
  • Requires DCA to establish procedures for inspection and abatement of mold in homes and schools and certification programs for mold inspectors and workers. (A1433/S2882) sponsored by Asm. Benson/Wimberly and Sen. Madden. Passed the Assembly Housing and Community Dev. Committee 10.22.18
  • Mold Safe Housing Act (S460) sponsored by Sen. Singer. This bill requires renters of mold-contaminated to have the mold effectively removed, or be relocated to safer rental housing. The bill also provides a system of inspection of all rental housing for the presence of mold. Single family and two-family rental housing will be required to be inspected upon a change in occupancy, as well as every five years as part of the multiple dwelling inspection.
  • Requires various measures to address effects of low levels of lead exposure (A1267) sponsored by Asw. Tucker/Jasey. This bill will enable school personnel to know if a child has a history of elevated blood lead levels, and will require schools to educate staff and parents about the dangers of lead exposure.
  • Requires DEP to adopt Statewide plan to reduce lead exposure from contaminated soils and drinking water (S682/A3373) sponsored by Sen. Bateman and Asm. Conaway. Passed Assembly unanimously 6.25.18.
  • Requires public and nonpublic schools to test for and remediate lead in drinking water, and disclose their test results (A1875) sponsored by Asw. Muoio.
  • Revises and codifies schedule for childhood lead screening as precondition of child's initial entry into school system. (S1239) sponsored by Sen. Turner 
  • Proposes constitutional amendment to dedicate revenue collected from sales tax on paint for lead hazard remediation purposes. (SCR26) sponsored by Sen. Rice/Turner. Passed Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee 6.25.18.

Provide Tenants with the Right to a Safe, Decent Home:

  • Establishes the “Safe Sanitary Rental Housing Bill of Rights” (S982/A1431) sponsored by Sen. Singleton. Ensures that all tenants know who their landlord is and regulations that prevent landlords using public subsidies for properties that are not properly maintained.
  • Establishes confidentiality of landlord-tenant court records; addresses adverse actions on rental applications (S806/A2938) sponsored by Sen. Codey/Rice/Stack. Ends “tenant blacklisting” to make it unlawful and end the often-discriminatory practice of rejecting prospective tenants solely because a prior court action had been filed by either side.
  • Codifies and enhances use of breach of implied warranty of habitability as defense to certain eviction actions. (S805/A2937) sponsored by Sen. Codey/Rice. Strengthens tenants’ right to a habitable home by facilitating the right of tenants to raise habitability violations in eviction and other judicial proceedings, while ensuring that judges hearing such cases can both order and obtain appropriate inspections whenever tenants raise health and safety claims.
  • Expand tenant rights (S3044/A4711) sponsored by Senator Stack and Asm. Mukherji. This bill would prohibit a landlord from considering certain landlord-tenant case histories when screening tenants.  The bill also would clarify that tenants may pursue a rent receivership action against a landlord without first having to make a rent deposit with the court and that the action may be made on the ground that the implied warranty of habitability has been violated.
  • Requires hotel and multiple dwelling inspections every two years (S1150) sponsored by Sen. Ruiz.
  • Expands liability of limited liability companies acting as residential landlord (S1151/A4379) sponsored by Sen. Ruiz and Asw. Reynolds-Jackson. Passed Assembly Housing Committee 9.13.18. Amended on the Assembly floor 10.29.18. 
  • Requires emergency contact information and 2-1-1 telephone system access instructions to be provided to tenants of multiple dwellings. (S1211) sponsored by Sen. Ruiz.
  • Requires owners of multiple dwellings with at least nine units to provide maintenance services 24 hours a day. (S1154) sponsored by Sen. Ruiz.
  • Allows for the establishment of a “County Tenant Legal Assistance Program” in each county (S1644/A4502) sponsored by Sen. Stack and Asm. Wimberly. The bill requires portion of the administrative fee for residential mortgage execution sales fund the program.

Support charitable contributions in New Jersey: We are concerned that new federal tax policies could influence the flow of contributions to non-profits.

  • Permit New Jersey residents to deduct charitable contributions  from their state income taxes. (S2179/A307) sponsored by Sen. Kean and Asm. Webber/Bucco.

Advance Housing Policies to Move NJ Forward: We will work to ensure that municipal fair housing plans continue to be approved through ongoing court cases, including through court settlements among fair housing advocates, municipal leaders and community developers.

For the complete text of any of these bills, go to www.njleg.state.nj.us and search by bill number. For more information about these issues, contact Arnold Cohen or Staci Berger, 609/393-3752.

*Updated 1.4.2019