Legislation, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), and Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic), aiming to help residents struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic cleared the full Assembly, 79-0, on Thursday.
The bill (A-3957) would make an FY 2020 supplemental Grants-in-Aid appropriation of $5,000,000 to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) NJSHARES – S.M.A.R.T. Program to fund financial assistance grants for New Jersey residents who suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill provides that $5 million would be appropriated from the Universal Service Fund for utility payment assistance.
The sponsors issued the following statement on the bill:
“NJShares – S.M.A.R.T. program helps many residents with financial constraints to pay their utilities throughout the year. This dedicated funding will especially aid families affected during this public health crisis. COVID-19 has impacted low-income and urban communities at disproportionate rates. Any relief we can provide to help residents pay their utility bills and meet their families’ needs will be critical to helping them get through this time.”