In Jersey City, mayoral challenger Lewis Spears and incumbent Steven Fulop’s administration are standing and trading over the Huffington Post story on the city’s “slow” rental federal aid response.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The mayor has to be responsible for this, right? … People are being evicted and not having opportunity to pay their rent and yet he has a $2.4 million home that he just purchased: talk about being out of touch and disrespectful to the folks of Jersey City,” Spears said in a Facebook Live last night.
“This is unacceptable and Jersey City, particularly the mayor, needs to do better.”
Yesterday, The Huffington Post reported that Jersey City has processed just 45 rental relief applications, good for $450,000, though $7.8 million in federal funds remain undistributed.
They also wrote that 11,000 applications had been received, 900 had been processed, and 800 had been denied due to a provision that only owner-occupied buildings could apply for the program, which was rolled out in July.
This is the second type of rent relief funding from the city, with the first being launched in February, and 360 applications have been approved to date, officials said, with plans to reopen the program more broadly on October 2nd.
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione called it “another example of Lewis Spears lying” and noted that there is still a statewide moratorium on evictions and that the city will fulfill all their obligations before that expires.
“Whether it is him lying about being a Republican, or him lying about his investment property that was a blight on the community for 7 years, or him lying about having three open bench warrants for his arrest, it is clear his track record is very loose with facts,” she said.
“Everyone knows that Governor Murphy put a moratorium on evictions for anyone eligible for this money till the end of the year, so of course nobody is getting evicted because of the mayor as Lewis Spears says. We also know Mayor Fulop is doing the right thing in making sure residents and home owners have first access to the rental assistance money before larger developers and investors from out of town. It is unfortunate Spears continues to lie but the Mayor is certain Jersey City will meet every guideline before the moratorium expires.”
Spears said today that the city could’ve benefited from a longer application period, should have been tailor to low-income and elder residents, and should’ve held office hours to help residents who needed it with the online application.
Fulop and Spears are going one-on-one in the November 2nd municipal elections, a race that had been mostly peaceful to date but now is evidently heating up.