County Commissioner O’Dea comes out in support of Jersey City right to counsel


Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2) is coming out in support of the Jersey City right to counsel measure, which will include the first reading of two related ordinances on Wednesday.

Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2). Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I am writing to express my support for the ordinance on RTC coming up for a vote this week. The timeliness of it is critical. As you know the County allocated [$1 million] as a pilot RTC program for the entire county that will expire in 2 years and unlike the proposed ordinance does not have a recurring revenue stream to support it,” he said in a statement.

“Equally important is the need to utilize revenue from the fees to provide rental assistance to qualified tenants also. Both the representation and assistance are important-the later can be enacted through your AHTF committee after adoption. Utilizing current AHTF $$ for rental assistance sooner rather than later is also important.”

He also said getting RTC implemented as soon as possible is critical to get the program operational before the funding for the county program runs out, as well as advocating for a centralized office and point person at the city level.

“I know that there is some discussion of also extending at a minimum some representation services to 80-120% AMI tenants-and fund from other grants and/or general revenue-which is a good idea. I urge you to support the adoption of the ordinance presented this week,” O’Dea concluded.

This week, the council will consider two ordinances for first reading, since both the RTC plan and the related development fees have undergone significant changes since they were approved on first reading last month.

20 percent of the money allocated to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund would be used to fund the RTC, with 80 percent earmarked for other miscellaneous affordable housing policies, such as emergency rental assistance.

The Jersey City Planning Board voted unanimously for this measure, while the broader plan as a whole has been endorsed by a range of progressive groups from across the state, along with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

The new ordinance has the same original three sponsors: Councilmen Yousef Saleh, James Solomon, and Frank “Educational” Gilmore. They are also joined by Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera this time around.

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