The lawyer representing the Union City Housing Initiative, a property owners group who filed a lawsuit last month to overturn local rent hike and eviction freezes, is sparring over a new, related bill introduced by state Senator Brian Stack (D-33).
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
UCHI counsel Charles Gormally contends that bill 2485, sponsored by Stack, was introduced after they filed a legal challenge against Union City and Stack – in his capacity as mayor – as a way to unilaterally make his two previous executive orders legal.
“While the governor doesnâ€™t want people to become homeless during a pandemic, you certainly donâ€™t want Union City, Jersey City, Newark, or New Brunswick landlords to establish their own rules of eviction during a state of emergencies,” Gormally said over the phone yesterday.
“And only Union City has decided they had to rewrite the state law. Even after the emergency is over, they still canâ€™t be evicted: thatâ€™s fundamentally rewriting the tenant-landlord bargain here in New Jersey.”
The legislation would potentially allow municipalities to end eviction freezes “on the first day of the third month following the conclusion of the State of Emergency or Public Health Emergency, whichever is later.”
The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee declined to review the bill last week, but they approved an amended version during a hearing today. The latest version of the bill was not immediately available.
On March 19th, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 106, halting foreclosures and evictions for the duration of coronavirus pandemic, but the Union City Board of Commissioners still approved a rent hike moratorium and an eviction freeze the following month.
While a Hudson County Superior Court judge denied an initial court action to overturn Union City’s renter relief measures, the case is still pending.
“Housing security and stability have been vital in reducing the exposure and continued spread of the COVID-19 virus and to threaten that is callous and doing so under the pretense that they are helping tenants is hypocritical,” said Stack spokeswoman Erin Knoedler.
“Senator/Mayor Stack has and will always fight to protect tenantsâ€™ rights. With respect to S-2485, the whole point of having a bill go to committee is to incite debate and possible amendments by the billâ€™s sponsor. That is the exact process for a bill to become a law and not out of the ordinary.”
While Gormally praised Stack, which Murphy also did, for helping move forward a $100 million statewide rent relief fund, he argued that a state senator should not be using his influence to get results in the city where he serves as mayor.
“Running roughshod over constitutional protections and annexing private property is flatly abusive government,” Gormally exclaimed.
“The sad part is, not only does this harm property owners and the long term interests of the City in its housing stock, it does not even help tenants: the tactics he is using have been proven time and time again by academics to fail in even protecting existing affordable housing.â€
In a preliminary statement filed on behalf of the city, they argue that repealing their ordinances under normal circumstances would be “draconian” at best and would be “northing short of catastrophic” during a pandemic.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information.
Iâ€™m very proud of Brian Stack and he does for the people. 2 years ago I was illegally evicted from an apt I live with my minor child, Iâ€™m disabled widow. I can name the Judges in Hudson County thatâ€™s were in cohorts with my crooked landlord Overlook Terrace WNY. I reached out to everyone mayor, police even the fire dept. The only person to call me back was Brian unfortunately he couldnâ€™t do anything for me. I was so impressed he heard me out and advised me. But Iâ€™m curious OVERLOOK TERRACE north is governed by no one. You go to land lord tenet court in Jc and every town has legal aides the minute you say Overlook terrace they want nothing to do with u. It gets better go to town hall try to file a complaint not allowed. The people of WNY have no idea how corrupt The Canino family is. And that manager they have Tony Cupano. Piece of work. He did everything in his power to destroy my life. They hacked me, had my mail on hold turn off my power and took my name off the account. I was spied with a hidden camera. They finally resorted to getting this desperate young girl that lives there started accusing me of assault and bc the cop that lives in. The building had to suck up to the super he let them literally abuse me. That girl did that to me 3 times I was even arrested. And I kept telling the police to see the cameras they claimed management wouldnâ€™t let them. I had to finally say to manager I was gonna charge her with aiding and abiding these false charges. She finally fezzed up a little bit of footage from 1 camera. The girl never showed up to court charges were dropped but for an entire year that girl would see me and started screening. I s we had I gotten a criminal charge I wouldâ€™ve been evicted. And since they tried not cashing my rent check saying Iâ€™m late. I won. Than willful destruction of property. I won I fixed the horrible job their Super did. Which BTW heâ€™s not a Plummer, or electrician. I went to town hall to see if permit wasnâ€™t taken out for the job I paid the super for thereâ€™s no permits to back up the work done in the units bc when the tenets move they put wall back up and undo what last tenet did this way the new tenet has to pay the super to do it all over again. Not a bad gig get paid cash uses the buildings staff for his personal side jobs that he only take cash for. Ilegal no one has been successful bringing down those criminals. On Feb 6, 2017 I was dragged out of my home by 6 men. I had to fight for my right to gather my belongings the law gives u 30 days. I still donâ€™t know what the reason to evict me was. I know too much I want them to know Iâ€™m not done.