With DeGise and Rivera on board, Jersey City RTC proposal poised for approval next week


With Jersey City Council at-large members Amy DeGise and Daniel Rivera on board, the city’s right to counsel proposal is poised for approval at next week’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Rivera’s support is expected, as he signed on with the original sponsors, Councilmen Yousef Saleh, James Solomon, and Frank “Educational” Gilmore prior to the governing body approving the first reading of the two amended related ordinances last month.

“Our city is taking yet another significant step to reduce unwarranted evictions that disproportionately affect minorities most,” Rivera said in a statement.

“At the same time, this legislation will further grow our Affordable Housing Trust Fund to continue breaking new ground in our collective fight to increase affordability for our most vulnerable residents.”

The amendments include a provision that allows a Tenants Advisory Board to approve educational and and enforcement programs, opens the possibility for a universal program pending new funding sources, allows the director to provide mediation services, allows paralegals and law students the ability to be hired via requests for proposals, and allows the council to approve the amount of contracted lawyers and in-house staff annually.

With DeGise’s support, the local legislation have the five votes needed for second and final reading on Wednesday.

“This legislation is crucial to providing comprehensive support and resources for residents that prioritizes equity and social justice in housing,” she stated.

“This legislation protects vulnerable populations, promotes housing stability, and fosters a strong sense of community. As we continue this work, we must ensure our middle-class residents are not excluded due to income thresholds and provide education and information for mom-and-pop landlords who seek guidance navigating tenant-landlord relations. I look forward to continuing this important work together.”

One ordinance will establish a RTC office at City Hall with a number of procedural guidelines in place, while the other would charge development fees to find the office.

Specifically, 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.

According to Solomon, the city would collect about $20 million a year in development revenues, leaving an annual RTC budget of about $4 million annually.

“I am grateful to Mayor Fulop and the Councilmembers who have demonstrated their public support for Right-to-Counsel in Jersey City—and I’m thrilled to add Councilmembers DeGise and Rivera to this list,” he noted.

“They will be the fourth and fifth vote for this bill, guaranteeing its passage. Above all, their commitment to our residents means that Jersey City will pass one of the strongest Right-to-Counsel bills in the country, protecting tenants across the city.”

Mayor Steven Fulop, also a declared Democratic candidate for governor, endorsed the proposal in April and expressed enthusiasm over the fact that final approval was all but guaranteed now.

“This self-sustaining Right-to-Counsel legislation is the latest important step in our efforts to expand access to quality affordable housing opportunities and provide much-needed protections for our residents, especially our traditionally underserved populations who need it most,” he explained.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to live without fear of being needlessly uprooted. That’s why we are standing up for our residents, especially those facing eviction who oftentimes cannot afford an attorney to fight for their constitutional rights.”

The Jersey City Council meeting convenes on Wednesday, June 14th, at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m. and the hearing will also stream live on Microsoft Teams.

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