NJAA’s Brogan: Renters assistance program is ‘absolutely critical’

Dave Brogan rattled off the rent-payment statistics. And they weren’t that bad … for April.

“We’re seeing rent collections ranging from percentages in the mid-60s to the high 80s,” he said. “But we have no idea what’s going to happen in May — that’s the first time when the true impact will be seen.”

That’s when many of the more than 575,000 people putting in unemployment claims will need to make another rent payment. And that’s why Brogan, the executive director of the New Jersey Apartment Association, is hopeful that a bill promising $100 million will get passed in the state Senate next week.

File photo
Dave Brogan of the New Jersey Apartment Association.

“I think that it is absolutely critical for both tenants and for landlords to get this assistance,” he said.

The 2020 New Jersey Emergency Rental Assistance Program is sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) as well as Sens. Brian Stack (D-Jersey City) and Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa).

The program would pay certain amounts of rent due for tenants who are at least 30 days past due on a rent payment, unable to pay rent without assistance and have suffered a demonstrable loss in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The bill specifies that funding for the $100 million should come first from assistance provided from the federal government — with the remaining amounts appropriated from the state.

Brogan thinks the bill is well-thought-out, because it also includes medium-income individuals as well as moderate- and low-income renters.

“We know that there’s several million for low- and moderate-income families already, so if we could expand that to include medium income, you’re including workforce housing in an assistance plan at a time when those are the people who need the help the most,” he said.

Brogan also likes the fact that you don’t need to have an eviction action filed to get the assistance.

“The goal clearly is to get people assistance before any eviction action is filed,” he said. “That was really important because it will help keep money flowing.”

Getting money from the federal government is the key to making the program work. The state clearly does not have the funds to support it.

Brogan said the NJAA already was working with the National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council, actively requesting additional funds from the federal government.

“There is a potential for more money coming down the pike,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that Gov. (Phil) Murphy and the Legislature recognized this need. Our hope is that President (Donald) Trump and Congress understand the need, too, because it’s a critical need.”

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