COVID-era Housing Assistance Bill in NJ, Murphy quietly vetoed

TRENTON – After signing $ 750 million in rent and utilities assistance and passing other eviction protections on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy quietly revealed he was also vetoing another bill on COVID-related housing that lawmakers had passed unanimously.

The bill Murphy will not sign is S3955 / A5905, which would establish a rental aid navigation program within the state’s Department of Community Affairs. In it, DCA – or its subcontractors – would help tenants navigate the rental assistance application process.

“I’m concerned it could cost up to $ 300 million to administer,” Murphy said in a signing statement. “The high cost… is mainly due to the lack of income limitations on program participation and the requirement that DCA coordinate applications for all rental programs, including non-public programs, as well as mediation , in a very short time.

Murphy said many of the same functions can be performed at a cost of $ 11 million, “targeting those most in need of help,” which is part of a $ 37.5 million funding request. which he submitted to the Legislative Assembly last week.

Murphy said DCA has already started work on distributing the new housing assistance, including developing an online tool that will help determine if an applicant meets income thresholds for assistance. He said the various efforts that will be required to run the program exceed the 2.5% allocation for administrative costs in the law and that an additional $ 37.5 million should be allocated.

These additional expenditures would require the approval of the Legislative Assembly’s Joint Budgetary Oversight Committee.

The signing statement was released mid-afternoon, hours after the bill was signed at a ceremony in Union City and the original press release on the new law was released.

Murphy said that although he is “unable to sign” S3955, his goals will be achieved through the bill he signed.

The Legislative Services Office said in a June 30 tax estimate that the Murphy administration had failed to respond to the legislature’s request for a tax note.

Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].

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