The Essex County Freeholder Board
Pictured are (from left to right, front row) District 2 Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson, Freeholder At-Large Romaine Graham, District 3 Freeholder Tyshammie L. Cooper, Freeholder At-Large Patricia Sebold, and Freeholder President At-Large Brendan Gill. (From left to right, back row) District 5 Freeholder Carlos Pomares, District 4 Freeholder Leonard M. Luciano, Freeholder At-Large Rufus I. Johnson, and District 1 Freeholder Robert Mercado. PHOTO BY GLEN FRIESON
(Newark, NJ) – On October 7, 2020, the Essex County Freeholder Board passed a resolution in support of New Jersey Assembly Bill 4034 (A4034), which aims to provide protection to tenants, homeowners and landlords who have suffered significant financial losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. The bill, known as “The People’s Bill”, will help renters avoid eviction, and help homeowners and landlords of single and multi-family homes avoid mortgage default by creating pauses and repayment plans on their rent and mortgage payments.
The resolution of support was initiated by Freeholder President Brendan W. Gill, sponsored by acclamation and passed unanimously. The primary sponsor of “The People’s Bill”, Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake of the 34th District, was invited by Freeholder President Gill to the recent Essex County Freeholder Conference/Board Meeting to speak to the Board and the viewing public about the benefits of the bill.
Assemblywoman Timberlake, who is also the former President of the Essex County Freeholder Board, articulated the details and spirit of the bill – which is preventing the rise of homelessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “What this very important piece of legislation does,” Assemblywoman Timberlake stated, “is make sure that those who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 in a negative way, will be able to keep a roof over their head whether they are a homeowner or a renter.” She continued, “The bill creates a uniform mortgage forbearance for homeowners, and outlines what a fair mortgage forbearance is. The bill also makes sure that a fair rent repayment plan is put into place.”
Organizations such as NJ Citizen Action, Fair Share Housing Center, Ironbound Community Corporation, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey assisted in authoring the bill, and since its introduction the bill has gained support from over 100 organizations. Specifically, the bill allows any person who has experienced loss of employment, increased expenditures related to childcare, or unexpected funeral expenses during COVID-19 to apply for a repayment plan option for their housing payments. As Assemblywoman Timberlake explained, the bill will also assist landlords and owners of single and multi-family homes by providing forbearance relief that extends mortgage terms with no additional fees or interest. Additionally, the bill will mandate a moratorium on eviction of tenants until after the 60th day following the end of the Emergency Period. The “Emergency period” is defined as the period during which a public health emergency exists in the State of New Jersey as declared by Governor Murphy in Executive Order No. 103 of 2020.
“The People’s Bill” was reported out of Assembly Committee and the corresponding bill, No. 2340 (S2340) is now before the Senate. Copies of the Freeholder Board’s resolution will be forwarded to Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, and the members of the Essex County State Legislative Delegation.
Freeholder President Gill, Vice President Wayne Richardson, and Freeholder Patricia Sebold thanked Assemblywoman Timberlake for the presentation and expressed their complete support of the bill. Freeholder President Gill stated, “Hopefully this resolution will be heard by our leadership in the Senate. It is time to move this bill forward and get it to the Governor’s desk.”
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For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)