[First Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 4784

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 11, 2017

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblywoman  ELIZABETH MAHER MUOIO

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  TIM EUSTACE

District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  JOHN S. WISNIEWSKI

District 19 (Middlesex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Downey, Assemblymen Houghtaling, Mazzeo, Land, Johnson, Rumpf, Assemblywoman Gove, Assemblymen McGuckin, Coughlin, Assemblywomen Vainieri Huttle, Oliver and Assemblyman C.A.Brown

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes process for recovery of Superstorm Sandy aid overpayments.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Reform and Federal Relations Committee on June 1, 2017, with amendments.

  


An Act concerning efficiency and transparency in the recovery of Superstorm Sandy aid money, and amending and supplementing P.L.2015, c.102. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.2015, c.102 (C.52:15D-4) is amended to read as follows

     2.    As used in P.L.2015, c.102 (C.52:15D-3 et seq.), as amended and supplemented:

     "Agency" means the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency established pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1983, c.530 (C.55:14K-4).

     "Applicant" means an individual or business that has applied for, is waiting for, or is receiving benefits under a recovery and rebuilding program, and shall include individuals who are awaiting the completion of a construction project using benefits received under a recovery and rebuilding program.

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Community Affairs.

     "Department" means the Department of Community Affairs.

     "Forbearance" means a period of time during which obligations for mortgage and interest payments are suspended.

     "FRM" means the Fund for Restoration of Multifamily Housing.

     "Qualified contractor pool" means a listing of contractors approved by the Department of Community Affairs participating in the RREM program.

     "LMI" means Low-to-Moderate Income and the program for which policies and procedures have been adopted by the Department of Community Affairs.

     "Mortgage" means a mortgage, trust deed, or other security in the nature of a residential mortgage.

     “Non-Standard Payment Plan” means the payment plan offered to a Sandy-impacted homeowner pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     “Notice of Over-Disbursement” means the notice provided to a Sandy-impacted homeowner pursuant to section 2 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     “Over-disbursement” means any Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds previously paid to a Sandy-impacted homeowner which the department has calculated to exceed the initial determination of need, plus any demonstrated additional unmet need, but only to the extent that such assistance is a duplication of benefits received by the homeowner as prohibited  pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s.5155.

     "Recovery and rebuilding program" means the use of funding provided by the federal government for the RREM and LMI programs, which are intended to help individuals rebuild and recover from Superstorm Sandy, the TBRA program, which is intended to assist renters in returning to and residing in areas impacted by Superstorm Sandy, and the FRM program, which is intended to assist developers in repairing or replacing rental housing units damaged or destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

     "RREM" means Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation.

     "Sandy-impacted homeowner" means a homeowner for whom one or both of the following are true:

     (1)   the homeowner received rental assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of damage to his or her primary residence due to Superstorm Sandy; or

     (2)   the homeowner has been approved for assistance through the RREM or LMI program.

     “Standard Payment Plan” means the payment plan offered to a Sandy-impacted homeowner pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.    , c. (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill.

     "Superstorm Sandy" means the major storm that made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, 2012.

     "TBRA" means Tenant-Based Rental Assistance.

(cf: P.L.2017, c.15, s.1)

 

     2.    (New Section) When the department determines that a Sandy-impacted homeowner has received an over-disbursement of RREM or LMI funds, the department shall provide the Sandy-impacted homeowner with a “Notice of Over-Disbursement.”  The notice shall detail the source, type, and amount of over-disbursement, including a line-item accounting of all funds disbursed to the Sandy-impacted homeowner, the program through which the funds were disbursed, 1and1 the purpose of each disbursement 1[, and an explanation of a Sandy-impacted homeowner’s rights]1.  The notice shall also contain an explanation of a Sandy-impacted homeowner’s rights, including all rights established in P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), information on how a Sandy-impacted homeowner may appeal the department’s determination, information on options for the repayment of the debt, and information on any interest and penalties that may accrue if the debt is not paid within the period permitted pursuant to section 3 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  Within 60 days of receipt of the notice, a Sandy-impacted homeowner shall notify the department whether they will satisfy the debt in one lump sum or will request a compromise or payment plan.  However, if a Sandy-impacted homeowner files an appeal of an over-disbursement determination within the time frame permitted under section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), that Sandy-impacted homeowner shall notify the department whether they will satisfy the debt in one lump sum or will request a compromise or payment plan within 30 days of the exhaustion of all administrative and judicial processes.

 

     3.    (New Section)  a.  A Sandy-impacted homeowner may pay the full amount of the over-disbursement debt within 60 days of receipt of the Notice of Over-Disbursement provided by the department.  The notice shall include a debt repayment form and instructions regarding the payment of the debt.  The department shall provide written notice to a Sandy-impacted homeowner that their payment has been received and has been applied to satisfy the debt. 

     b.    If there are insufficient assets to pay the debt in full, a Sandy-impacted homeowner may request a payment plan.  The Sandy-impacted homeowner shall provide the department with a copy of their most recent federal income tax return and a summary of their monthly expenses.  The department shall evaluate a Sandy-impacted homeowner’s assets, income, and reasonable living expenses to determine whether a Sandy-impacted homeowner can pay a portion of the debt with an initial payment and make payments for the remainder of the debt in regular installments.  Reasonable living expenses shall include average utility costs for the last twelve months, housing, food, clothing, and other expenses equal to an amount not less than the Collection Financial Standards set forth by the Internal Revenue Service for transportation, food, clothing, and out-of-pocket health care costs.  The commissioner, or his designee, shall approve or deny a request for a payment plan within 90 days of its delivery to the department.

     c.     The department shall provide two payment plans:

     (1) The “Standard Payment Plan” shall be offered to the Sandy-impacted homeowner if there is sufficient net disposable income to pay the over-disbursement debt in 36 months or less and no other condition of paragraph (2) of this subsection is satisfied.

     (2) The “Non-Standard Payment Plan” shall be offered to a Sandy-impacted homeowner if the calculated net disposable income is insufficient to repay the over-disbursement debt in 36 months; the amount owed is greater than $5,000; or the amount to be paid on a 60-month plan is for the adjusted balance due after a partial compromise.  A Sandy-impacted homeowner who is offered the repayment plan shall be provided not less than 36 months, but not more than 60 months, to pay the over-disbursement debt in full. 

     d.    After the payment plan is determined, the department shall mail a payment plan agreement offer letter, promissory note, and an amortization schedule to the Sandy-impacted homeowner.  The Sandy-impacted homeowner shall return the signed and dated promissory note to the department within 30 days of receipt.  If a Sandy-impacted homeowner fails to return the signed and dated promissory note, the department shall mail the Sandy-impacted homeowner a letter of intent notifying the Sandy-impacted homeowner that their case will be transferred to the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services in the Department of the Treasury and notifying the Sandy-impacted homeowner of the consequences of a failure to pay the over-disbursement debt.  No payment plan agreement shall require payments in excess of one-half percent of the Sandy-impacted homeowner’s monthly income, or six percent of the Sandy-impacted homeowner’s annual income, whichever is less.

     e.     The department shall post information on payment plan eligibility and the application process, and make payment plan applications available, on the Internet website established pursuant to section 5 of P.L.2015, c.102 (C.52:15D-7).  Any information posted pursuant to this subsection shall include a link to the department’s Language Access Plan for housing programs.

 

     4.    (New Section) a. When the department determines that a Sandy-impacted homeowner does not have sufficient income, assets, or resources to make payments, the over-disbursement debt, except for any portion of the debt the debtor can pay through disposable assets, shall be compromised in full.  When determining the ability of a Sandy-impacted homeowner to repay the debt, the department may consider the Sandy-impacted homeowner’s age, health, financial hardship, and other extraordinary circumstances as determined by the commissioner. All proposed compromises involving special factors other than age or disability shall be approved by the commissioner.

     b.    The department shall notify a Sandy-impacted homeowner, by mail, when the commissioner has approved a partial compromise of the over-disbursement debt.  The letter shall explain to the Sandy-impacted homeowner that a partial compromise has been approved because the Sandy-impacted homeowner has provided evidence of an inability to pay the debt in full.  The department shall offer the Sandy-impacted homeowner a 60-month “Non-Standard Payment Plan” to repay the amount due.  The Sandy-impacted homeowner shall have 30 days to execute documents accepting the terms of the payment plan or satisfy their debt through an alternate process.  No payment plan agreement shall require payments in excess of one-half percent of the Sandy-impacted homeowner’s monthly income, or six percent of the Sandy-impacted homeowner’s annual income, whichever is less.  If the Sandy-impacted homeowner fails to comply with the terms of the payment plan, the department shall mail a Sandy-impacted homeowner a letter of intent notifying the Sandy-impacted homeowner that their case will be transferred to the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services in the Department of the Treasury and notifying the Sandy-impacted homeowner of the consequences of a failure to pay the debt.  The department shall notify a Sandy-impacted homeowner, by mail, when the commissioner has determined that the debt will be compromised in full. 

     c.     The department shall post information on eligibility for a compromise of the debt, and make debt compromise applications available, on the Internet website established pursuant to section 5 of P.L.2015, c.102 (C.52:15D-7).  Any information posted pursuant to this subsection shall include a link to the department’s Language Access Plan for housing programs.

 

     5.    (New Section)  a.  The department shall establish an appeals process to be used in the case of the denial of a payment plan request.  The department shall provide a Sandy-impacted homeowner notice of the commissioner’s determination of an appeal by certified mail and by any other means available to the department. 

     b.    Any Sandy-impacted homeowner may appeal, in writing, to the commissioner the department’s determination that a Sandy-impacted homeowner received an over-disbursement of RREM or LMI funds.  A Sandy-impacted homeowner may also appeal, in writing to the commissioner, the department’s determination that a Sandy-impacted homeowner is ineligible for either a payment plan or a compromise of the over-disbursement debt.  Any Sandy-impacted homeowner for whom a Final Grant Reconciliation Document has been signed by the department or who has repaid an over-disbursement debt either in whole or in part, may appeal the department’s determination.  Appeals shall be filed with the commissioner within 30 days of the receipt of notice of an over-disbursement or the denial of a payment plan or compromise.  All appeals shall be decided within 30 days from the date an appeal is submitted to the commissioner’s office.  If the appeal has been decided if favor of the Sandy-impacted homeowner, the Sandy-impacted homeowner shall be entitled to a reimbursement of any over-disbursement payments in excess of the amount otherwise due pursuant to a payment plan agreement entered into pursuant to section 3 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     c.     Within 15 days of the filing of any appeal by a Sandy-impacted homeowner, the department, shall provide that homeowner with information about his or her appeal, including:

     (1)   the date on which a Sandy-impacted homeowner filed the appeal;

     (2)   all pending reviews of the appeal and the date of any upcoming hearings related to the appeal;

     (3)   the department’s final determination, if one is made as of the date the request for information is fulfilled, or otherwise the date on which a Sandy-impacted homeowner can expect that the department will make a final determination concerning the appeal;

     (4)   a list of all documents related to the appeal and the date on which each document was filed; and

     (5)   an explanation of any decision to deny the appeal, an explanation of how to remedy the request for a payment plan, and when possible, continue the appeal process.  When an appeal is denied, the department shall notify the homeowner, in plain language printed in at least 8-point bold face type, that a copy of their case file shall be made available upon request. 

     d.    After filing an appeal of the department’s determination, a Sandy-impacted homeowner shall be permitted to enter into a payment plan pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as the bill).

     e.     The department shall post information on the appeals process on the Internet website established pursuant to section 5 of P.L.2015, c.102 (C.52:15D-7).

 

     6.    (New Section)  Unless there is evidence of civil or criminal fraud, the department shall not initiate any new action to recover any over-disbursement more than three years after the last date on which the payment of funds of funds from a recovery or rebuilding program were made to an individual or household. 

 

     7.    There are appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Community Affairs such sums as are necessary to refund excess over-disbursement payments pursuant to subsection b. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     8.    This act shall take effect immediately.