Singleton, Pou, Ruiz Housing Bills Advance

Trenton – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today advanced three bills sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton, Nellie Pou and M. Teresa Ruiz. The bills would expand opportunities for minority owned businesses in low and moderate-income housing developments, modify standards for loans to sponsors for housing projects during a state of emergency and establish the “NJ Foreclosure Counseling Fund.”

“Addressing the housing needs of our state is a key component of our efforts to make New Jersey a more affordable and equitable place to live,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “The shared goal of these bills is to enhance opportunities that will help keep families in their existing housing and help diverse developers build much needed affordable housing in our communities."

The first bill, S-2544, sponsored by Senators Singleton and Pou, would revise certain aspects of the Home Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) laws to encourage participation by qualified minority and women owned housing development firms.

“The goal of this bill is to expand and diversify the housing developers that build in our state,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Promoting participation by minority and women-owned businesses will usher in realistic opportunities for these firms to participate in providing low and moderate-income housing options to New Jersey residents.”

The second bill, S-4263, sponsored by Senator Singleton, would modify the standards for the distribution of eligible loans to housing sponsors to finance the construction, improvement, reconstruction, renovation, or rehabilitation of housing projects during a state of emergency.

The last bill, S-4277, sponsored by Senators Singleton and Ruiz, would establish the “New Jersey Foreclosure Counseling Fund” in a dedicated account administered by the Department of Community Affairs. Under the bill, the funds within the Foreclosure Counseling Fund would be paid to HMFA to reimburse trained counselors for foreclosure prevention services.

“Housing foreclosures are extremely stressful for struggling homeowners. Intervening as early as possible can give us a greater opportunity to find a solution that works for both the homeowner and the lender. Preventative measures such as pre-foreclosure counselors, can work with families to find a pathway to repayment and ultimately keep them in their homes,” said Senator Ruiz (D- Essex). “This legislation will ensure the HMFA has the funding needed to continue the important work of assisting New Jersey residents through this difficult process.”

The bills were released from committee by a vote of (7-5), (9-3) and (12-0), respectively.