By: Helena Perray, Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — On June 4, Governor Phil Murphy announced the extension of New Jersey’s utility moratorium through the end of the calendar year.
After Gov. Murphy signed legislation that officially ended the state’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, he further extended specific emergency orders – including the utility moratorium.
The moratorium, which had previously been extended to expire on June 30, prohibits utility companies from shutting off the gas, electric, and water services of state residents who are unable to make their utility payments on time. This measure was taken to help community members in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a press release, the moratorium now faces further extension through December 2021 as a result of high demand for extension by state utility companies.
With this announcement also comes further extension of the state’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium, which will protect residents who are unable to make rent and mortgage payments from losing their homes.
According to a press release, the state’s most recent data indicates that more than 350,000 New Jersey households have been unable to make their utility payments on time, owing more than $524 million in unpaid gas and electric bills.
State agencies, such as the Board of Public Utilities and Department of Community Affairs, currently lack millions in funds needed for the expansion of existing utility programs and in providing long-term support to state residents who are unable to pay the entirety of their bills.
The state has put in place such moratoriums as a means of temporary protection for those who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension of both emergency orders will further ensure that New Jerseyans will have necessary access to essential utilities within their homes and protection from payment-related evictions until the year’s end.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.