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NJ has not yet launched COVID relief program for homeowners. Why not?

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David Alston shed 18 pounds skipping meals to save money while he waited six months for his delayed unemployment checks. 

He depleted his $5,000 worth of savings and ran up $1,600 in debt on his cable bill before canceling the service. 

But his biggest concern was falling thousands of dollars behind in property tax payments for the house where he lives, which his family bought 50 years ago in Iselin, a community of 3 square miles in Woodbridge Township. 

“I’ll die first before I lose my parents’ home,” said Alston, 62. 

To help homeowners across the country such as Alston survive the financial upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government set aside close to $10 billion in a “Homeowner Assistance Fund” tucked within the massive American Rescue Plan stimulus.

But nearly 10 months later, few states have launched application portals for the program, let alone passed out any checks designed to help low-income families cover mortgage and interest payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments and property taxes.  

David Alston, 62, had problems obtaining money from unemployment and fell behind on his property tax payments for his Iselin home. Monday, January 10, 2022

The agency administering the $325 million fund in the Garden State — the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency — told NorthJersey.com that the U.S. Treasury Department has approved the plan New Jersey submitted back in August, but it will still be weeks before the program’s portal is open to the public.

“We anticipate providing more information in a formal announcement in the coming weeks, which will ensure that homeowners are able to collect relevant documents and begin engaging with contracted housing counselors for application assistance prior to the portal opening,” said Jonathan Sternesky, manager of policy and legislative affairs at the agency.





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Suspect arrested after barricade situation at Newark apartment complex

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Suspect arrested after barricade situation at Newark apartment complex Newark Post



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Will NJ retire function of role

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The Passaic County Constables’ Facebook page looks like that of any police department in New Jersey. 

The organization’s patch — which has the words “Passaic County Constable Police” wrapped around an illustration of Paterson’s Great Falls — serves as the profile picture. Further down, photos show smiling officers moving boxes, out on patrol or posing together, their belts heavy with collapsible batons, handcuffs and handguns.

The problem?

They’re not police officers. They’re constables. 

That means they’re politically-appointed civilians with little to no training, accountability and supervision — which makes them a potential danger, according to a state report issued last month that called for abolishing the position. 

There are likely several hundred constables working throughout New Jersey — although nobody knows for sure, the report said. Some may be armed — although that’s also not clear. 

“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Jason Williams, a professor of justice studies at Montclair State University and a Black Lives Matter activist. “They’re almost playing cops and robbers like we did when we were kids. This is a serious threat to civil liberties… and it threatens the trust and legitimacy of real law enforcement.”

The New Jersey Commission of Investigation, which delivered the 23-page report, might agree.

The document cited several instances during which constables — whose responsibilities and authority are not often clear — far overstepped their legal bounds. Such as when an armed Essex County constable allegedly pulled over a taxi after a July 2020 traffic dispute and demanded the driver’s license. 

Or when Andre Morton — founder of the County Constables Association of New Jersey — led a posse of Essex County constables into Jersey City on Dec. 10, 2019, intending to somehow help authorities during a shootout between police and a gun-wielding couple who had just attacked a Jewish deli. 





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Newark Central over North Bergen – ALS Showcase – Boys basketball recap

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Hazir Lee netted 16 points with five rebounds and four steals to lead Newark Central to a 63-43 win over North Bergen at the ALS Showcase in Union City.

Lee scored eight points in the third quarter to help Central take a 47-35 lead into the final quarter.

Zahmorian Singleton, who was named Newark Central’s Team MVP, added on 20 points and five rebounds, while Jakai Irby posted a double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds.

Eli Camacho was selected as North Bergen’s Team MVP.

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