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Eustace, Benson, Jimenez & Green Bill to Better Protect Senior Citizens during Emergencies Clears Senate Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel R. Benson, Angelica Jimenez and Jerry Green sponsored to better protect senior citizens during extended power outages and emergencies was approved Thursday by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

The bill (A-3625) requires age-restricted multiple dwelling owners to annually prepare and maintain emergency building operations plans.

“We saw too far many instances during Hurricane Sandy of our most vulnerable residents being left without direly needed power for a long period of time,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “For our seniors, this can be a matter-of-life and death, so it’s not too much to ask that building owners prepare and maintain emergency building operations plans.”

Under the bill, an owner of a building comprised of more than 20 dwelling units reserved for residents of 55 years and older, will be required to maintain an emergency building operations plan in coordination with the municipal emergency management coordinator.

The plan would prepare the building for any possible loss of essential services, such as adequate heat, water, hot water, electricity, gas, or telephone service and any other substantial disruption to daily living that could result during an emergency. A copy of the plan would be filed with the municipal emergency management coordinator, and with any public utility providing service to the multiple dwelling.

“Building owners have a basic responsibility to ensure quality living conditions for their tenants,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “That includes emergencies. We cannot have seniors go without adequate heat, water and power simply due to poor planning, a lack of it.”

“Hurricane Sandy showed many of these facilities are simply unprepared for emergencies, and that’s not acceptable, especially for vulnerable senior citizens who rely on heat, hot water and power,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Requiring planning and preparation from these building owners is quite simply the right thing to do. Our seniors deserve this consideration.”

“These building owners need to do better when it comes to emergency planning,” said Green, (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), the Speaker Pro Tempore. “Sandy left many of our vulnerable seniors without basic needs, and there was no excuse for it. This bill will ensure the failings after Sandy do not happen again.”

The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly in March and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.