Jersey City Together comes out in support of local right to counsel proposal


Jersey City Together, a coalition of over 100 pastors, faith leaders, and community advocates, has come out in support of the local right to counsel proposal that the city council will consider on first reading this evening.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We are glad to see that the city is planning to provide a Right to Counsel to tenants in Jersey City,” Ellen Nash, a leader of the Jersey City Together Housing Team said in a statement.

“Access to counsel is provided by Hoboken, Union City, NYC and many other cities across the US. It definitely ‘levels the playing field’ in Housing Court and results in statistically fewer evictions.”

The measure, sponsored by Councilmen Yousef Saleh, James Solomon, and Frank “Educational” Gilmore also has the backing of Mayor Steven Fulop, as all four spoke in favor of the local legislation last Monday.

Based on conservative estimates of development over the prior five years, residential development impact fees would provide an average of $20 million a year for affordable housing, the ordinance notes.

“Everyone deserves the right to safe, affordable housing, and I am thrilled to have the support of Jersey City Together as we fight to keep tenants in their homes,” noted Solomon.

“Together, we will keep developers accountable to our city and protect tenants at risk of losing their homes—all while continuing to fight for affordable housing for all.”

Per state law, 80 percent of the annual development impact fee revenue must be dedicated to the production of affordable housing and would be placed in the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Additionally, the final 20 percent of the annual development impact fee revenue will be used to fund Jersey City’s RTC program. A conservative estimate is that the program will average a $4 million annual budget.

“This ordinance is definitely generating some great dialogue. Providing a right to counsel is imperative if we want to help level the playing field. There’s a lot more work to be done but this is a step in the right direction,” added Gilmore.

The clergy supporting right to counsel includes Bishop Joshua Rodriguez, Cityline Church, Jersey City; Rev. Dr. Willard Ashley; Father Gene Squeo, ICO; Rev. Ritney Castine, Mount Pisgah AME, Jersey City; Robyn L. Gorman, CEO, Hudson Partnership CMO; Dr. Jyl Josephson, Leader with JCT; Erich Sekel, Leader with JCT; Rev. Jon Brown, Old Bergen Church, Jersey City; Rev. Frances Teabout, Open Door Worship Center, Jersey City; Bishop Kevin E. Knight Sr., Heavenly Temple COGIC, Jersey City.

The Jersey City Council convenes at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m. this evening and will also stream live on Microsoft Teams.

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