First District Legislators Say NJ Can’t Afford Repeat of Governor’s CARES Act Inaction
Senator Michael Testa, Assemblyman Erik Simonsen, and Assemblyman Antwan McClellan expressed concern that the Murphy Administration has not put $350 million of rental assistance funding to use more than a month after it was received from the federal government.
“The Murphy Administration is sitting on millions of federal rental assistance funds that could be put to use today to help both tenants and landlords,” said Testa (R-1). “There’s been a total lack of urgency from the governor while all sides of the rental community are suffering. It’s unreal.”
New Jersey was allocated $350 million through a federal relief package approved in December. The funds, which were delivered to New Jersey in January, remain unspent.
“It is a slap in the face to all residents struggling to pay rent for the governor to sit on critical rental assistance,” Simonsen said. “Without this critical assistance, many renters are left in the dark worrying about when they will be able to pay their next bill or if they can place food on the table. It’s incredibly irresponsible to allow this funding to sit idle.”
The State’s underfunded COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program for low- and moderate-income households stopped accepting applications in July.
“Our families deserve better than an Administration that hoards rental assistance from its neediest resident,” McClellan said. “Our office receives hundreds of calls from either renters stressed about their next month’s rent or landlords worries about paying their mortgage. It is disappointing to know the governor isn’t releasing funds that could directly help these residents.”
Testa warned that New Jerseyans cannot afford for this to be a repeat of the governor’s fiasco with federal CARES Act relief funds. According to audits, 90% of the $2.4 billion sent to New Jersey in April was unspent by the Murphy Administration nearly six months later.
As a result of that failure to quickly deliver federal relief funds, around one-third of New Jersey’s small businesses closed permanently and more than 2 million New Jerseyans lost their jobs.
“New Jersey isn’t getting federal relief funds to collect dust in a State account, we’re getting it to help people,” added Testa. “Unfortunately, the governor didn’t spend CARES Act funds quickly enough to help many businesses or families. We can’t let him make the same mistake with our renters. Many are out of work, out of funds, and they have nowhere to go.”