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Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address delivered on March 8, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Murphy urged to sign foreclosure equity bill

By David Wildstein, September 14 2022 3:49 pm

With the time clock running, two Democratic assemblywomen are pushing Gov. Phil Murphy to sign the Community Wealth Preservation program legislation that won final approval by the legislature last month.

The measure seeks equity in the foreclosure process by helping residents make more competitive offers at Sheriff’s sales.

“This bill provides a practical solution to addressing the state’s disproportionate racial wealth gap and high foreclosure rates,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange), a primary sponsor.  “As I’ve stated from the beginning, a conditional veto is likely the end of this bill as we know it.”

Because the Assembly returns at noon tomorrow, Murphy has until then to sign, veto or conditionally veto legislation that was passed more than 45 days ago, or the bill will automatically become law.  Murphy is expected to act on the twelve outstanding bills before the Assembly session opens.

Timberlake wants Murphy to “either, in good faith, sign this bill into law and work with me to address his concerns in the clean-up bill or merge all the clean-up bill language all stakeholders for and against the bill worked on throughout the summer.”

“This bill preserves community wealth, encourages community ownership, and provides an equitable process for community members who do not have deep pockets of cash to compete at the Sheriff’s foreclosure sale,” Timberlake said.

Timberlake has pointed to support of the bill from the Divine 9, a group of historically Black college fraternities and sororities.

“I represent the city of Trenton, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the state. We must continue to communicate the significance of this legislation and what it means to the people who live and want to stay in our communities, said Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton).   “I stand firm alongside Assemblywoman Timberlake and look forward to getting this bill across the finish line.”

The sheriff sale process currently requires purchasers to put up 20% of the sale price and the rest of the money due within 30 days in cash.

This new proposal offers a path for people without access to huge amounts of cash  to put 3.5% down and have 90 business days to make the final payment.

Sponsors of the bill worry that the language of a conditional veto might weaken the bill and ultimately ill it.

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