Timberlake, faith-based leaders host community rally

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ORANGE, NJ — As the Community Wealth Preservation Program bill sits on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk awaiting his action to become law, faith-based leaders, members of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, and labor and grassroots organizations collaborated with Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake, the author of the bill, to rally support in asking the governor to sign the bill. The rally was held Sept. 8 at Saint Matthew AME Church in Orange.

The rally’s theme was the morality of advancing homeownership and how working families need equity in the foreclosure process at the time of sheriff’s sale. The current sheriff sale process requires 20 percent of the sales price and the rest of the money due within 30 days with interest building on the 11th in the form of cash or money order. This bill creates a lane for people who fall into certain categories to only use 3.5-percent down, with the rest of the money due within 90 business days. This opens the door for financing opportunities for people who do not traditionally have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on hand. 

“It is no secret to us that the acquisition of real estate is a major pathway to prosperity for black and brown people worldwide,” Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren said. “Homeownership has proven to be the best way to move into the middle and upper class.”

Also in attendance was state Democratic Chairperson Leroy Jones, who offered his support for this legislation. 

“We are asking the governor, who is of like mind and understands the issues we face daily, to sign this bill into law,” Jones said. “It is the power of the people who will help get this across the finish line.”

The Rev. Carol Lynn Patterson, of American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, led a conversation on morality. 

“Now is the time to call for morality as New Jersey needs a dignified economy that ensures a sustainable future for working-class families more than ever,” Patterson said. 

Larry Hamm, of the People’s Organization for Progress, offered powerful remarks that painted a stark picture of the eviction process and why it is crucial for the governor to support this bill. 

“If we give you our vote, you should give us legislation that benefits our community,” Hamm said. “Let’s make calls, send emails, write letters and whatever else is required to get this bill passed. We can understand why the George Floyd police accountability act did not get passed at the federal level. There is no excuse here in New Jersey when Democrats control the governor’s office, Senate and the General Assembly. Gov. Murphy must sign this bill.”

Members of the housing community were present and offered remarks supporting the bill. Staci Berger, president of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, which represents more than 250 affordable housing organizations and real estate stakeholders, said, “We receive calls daily from residents who need a safe place to live because they are short on their rent or mortgage. As the richest country in the world and one of the wealthiest states in the union, we have the resources to get this done and ask Gov. Murphy to sign this bill without delay.”

Timberlake closed out the rally with one final message: “Homeownership is the No. 1 wealth-building tool in the country. Unfortunately, New Jersey has one of the country’s highest foreclosure rates and the largest racial wealth gap. Leading New Jersey in foreclosures are urban areas hemorrhaging wealth through the loss of property. Since COVID, suburban communities have also seen an increase in foreclosures. This bill provides an opportunity for your neighbor or their children to save their family house from foreclosure, creates a lane for friends who want to buy a foreclosed property to live in and contribute to the community, and for nonprofits to create affordable housing homeownership and rental opportunities. Working families often do not have deep enough pockets to participate in foreclosure.”