Sen. Troy Singleton Appointed To Lead Community And Urban Affairs Committee

The 7th Legislative District legislator will trade his gavel as chair of the Senate’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for the chairman’s post of the Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

TRENTON — State Sen. Troy Singleton will have a new leadership assignment in 2019.

The 7th Legislative District legislator will trade his gavel as chair of the Senate’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for the chairman’s post of the Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

The latter committee typically screens legislation related to housing policy and standards, development and county and local governments.

Singleton, who is a leader with the state’s carpenters union, will also leave the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee for a spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a plum assignment that gives him responsibility for vetting nominees for many of the highest ranking positions in New Jersey’s government, as well as all judicial posts.

The changes were announced Thursday by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd of West Deptford, and follow the departure of Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-1st of Dennis, who is leaving the New Jersey Legislature to take a seat in Congress as the 2nd District’s elected representative. Van Drew had served as the chair of the Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

“New Jersey’s communities — whether urban, rural or suburban — continue to face unique challenges which require innovative solutions,” Singleton said in a statement about the change. “I am honored to serve in my new role as chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee to ensure that future policies are not only well intentioned, but also have positive impact.”

The Burlington County Democrat was only just elected to the Senate last year as the successor to the district’s longtime senator, Republican Diane Allen, but he spent the previous six years representing the district in the Assembly and was also previously chief of staff to former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts.

Singleton has been active on housing and development issues during his time in elected office, particularly with policies related to the foreclosures and abandoned homes.

New Jersey was among the hardest hit states by the foreclosure crisis and housing market crash, and vacant homes remain a problem across the state.

In September, a special committee formed by New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued a report with 17 recommendations on how to improve the foreclosure process and reduce a backlog of cases.

There were 17 recommendations ranging from improving public outreach and understanding of the foreclosure process to changes the Legislature and courts might consider to further improve the process and assist homeowners.

Among its recommendations, the report suggested revising state law to require a foreclosure case to be filed within six months of a notice of intent to foreclose, as well as modifying the procedures for sheriff’s sales to ensure they occur within the 120 days currently required by state law.

Another recommendation would expand the authority of the Superior Court Clerk to improve oversight of languishing cases.

Singleton said Thursday he hoped his new committee might take up legislation related to some of those recommendations early in the new year. He also said the committee would likely look at legislation related to the state’s affordable housing laws and requirements, which is among the thorniest of issues facing lawmakers dating back to the 1970s, when housing advocate Ethel Lawrence and the NAACP sued Mount Laurel for using zoning to keep out low-income housing.

Currently affordable housing compliance is overseen by New Jersey courts, but many municipal leaders have complained the process is expensive and have called on the Legislature to craft legislation reforming the complicated process of assigning towns quotas on the number of affordable units that should be planned for within their borders.

Singleton is well-versed on the issue dating back to his service with Roberts, who was the author of the last major affordable housing reform law in 2008. He said Thursday he planned to first look at legislation penned by Assembly Housing Committee chair Benji Wimberly, D-35th of Patterson, and try to build upon that.

“My prior work with former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts gave me a window into understanding the affordable housing issues in New Jersey and I am eager to engage stakeholders in an effort to find a legislative solution,” he said.

Original Article