Hunger on New Jersey Campuses Is More Common than You May Think

SHEILA NOONAN | DECEMBER 13, 2019

NJ Spotlght

The food pantry at Montclair State University, the first at a four-year New Jersey university, opened in 2016.

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Every college student is on a budget, but for one Bergen Community College student, money is especially tight. The 22-year-old Hackensack man lives on his own, renting a room for $545 a month and taking a bus to campus. A full-time course load and a work-study program at BCC leave him without time for additional employment, so he stretches his limited financial resources as best he can. The student, who did not wish to be identified, works about 20 hours a week in the work-study program for $10 an hour.

A food pantry run by the college and Hunger Free New Jersey, an anti-hunger advocacy organization, has been a lifeline for the mass communications major, and recently, that lifeline has reached a little longer. In October, the Bergen County Board of Social Services came to the Paramus-based school with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach and assistance and helped him apply for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Soon, his Electronic Benefits Transfer card will provide $190 a month that he can spend on food, such as refrigerated goods that are unavailable at the food pantry.

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House poised to restore your property tax deduction

Posted Dec 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — A move to give you back your full property tax deduction gained big momentum Wednesday in Congress.

But don’t celebrate quite yet.

A key House committee on Wednesday voted to temporarily restore the full federal deduction for state and local taxes, and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. said the full House will vote on the measure before going home for the year.

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Stop blowing off abuse allegations at Joe D’s jail | Editorial

Posted Dec 11, 2019

An immigrant detainee who claimed to have been assaulted by guards at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark had indeed been beaten up by multiple people, a doctor said.

A medical report showed signs of injury to his genitals – which the man said were stepped on by an officer.

It’s hard to imagine any prosecutor in the world who would say it’s not important to interview the alleged victim in a case like this.

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How Late Amendments Have Stalled Effort to Ban Plastic, Paper Bags

TOM JOHNSON | DECEMBER 11, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

A different version of the bill won legislative approval last year, but was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy, who wanted a stronger bill.

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It might take a bit longer to win passage of a bill touted as the nation’s most comprehensive effort to ban single-use plastic and paper bags and other plastics in New Jersey.

The legislation (SCS-2776) unexpectedly was pulled from a vote by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday, a step both advocates and foes agreed was spurred by late amendments adopted last week when the measure moved out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

The critical amendments called for a ban on both plastic and paper single-use bags one year from enactment, as well as a surprise provision that big-chain grocery stores provide free reusable bags for two months after the law takes effect. Previously, the bill would have waited two years before paper bags were banned.

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NYC Pauses Moving Homeless Families to Newark

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
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NEWARK, NJ — New York City has agreed to temporarily stop sending homeless families to Newark through the Special One-Time Assistance program pending the court’s ruling on an injunction over the issue.

Through SOTA an estimated 1,200 of New York City's homeless were relocated to Newark apartments, regardless of the spaces' living conditions, with no safety net beyond their one-year rental assistance.

The agreement between Newark and New York City was reached in a day-long discussion between the two cities’ attorneys at the Martin Luther King U.S. District Courthouse in Newark on Monday.

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We need to open more prison doors, and do more to help those who step out: McGreevey

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State Could Expand In-State Scholarships, Benefit More NJ College Students

COLLEEN O'DEA | DECEMBER 6, 2019

NJ Spotlight

New Jersey is the largest net exporter of students to colleges in other states in the U.S.

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Going to college in state would become more attractive, as in less expensive, to more New Jersey students under a proposed reinvigoration of a popular merit-based scholarship program that is moving through the Legislature.

Several of the bills considered at Thursday’s Assembly Higher Education Committee dealt with the high cost of college in New Jersey. The most significant measure approved (A-2769) seeks to repurpose, expand and sweeten the current New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) into the New Jersey HonorScholars program.

New Jersey is the largest net exporter of students to colleges in other states in the U.S., and on its inception in 2004, NJ STARS was seen as one way to entice talented high school graduates to attend college in state. However, its reach has declined since 2012 when the scholarships, which are funded by the state, were cut back to save money. So far, it is unclear how much more the new program might cost, and if Gov. Phil Murphy would be willing to pay for it.

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New Trump administration rule could take food stamps away from 12,000 N.J. residents

Posted Dec 04, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced new rules on Wednesday that could leave 12,000 New Jerseyans without the food stamps they now receive.

The new rules make it harder for states to waive the current restrictions on able-bodied adults without dependents, who can receive benefits only for three months in three years unless they have a job or are in school or a job training program for 20 hours a week.

Carole Johnson, New Jersey’s human services commissioner, said the rule takes away the flexibility that states now have to help residents in need beyond the three-month limit under what is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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Booker ally, law firm will fork over $6M in settlement with bankrupt Newark water agency

Updated Dec 04, 2019

An ally of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and his old law firm have agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit alleging legal malpractice and widespread negligence perpetuated a multi-million kickback scheme that bankrupted the agency once in charge of treating Newark’s water.

It’s among the most significant developments in the bankruptcy case for the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation, the independent agency that received taxpayer money to oversee water treatment and delivery to half a million North Jersey residents.

The lawsuit filed by trustees for the agency in federal bankruptcy court, claimed that officials with oversight powers shared financial responsibility for the scandal because their inattention enabled wasteful and illegal spending and failed to stop millions in no-bid contracts for work that was never performed. Booker, who was mayor until 2013 and has since launched a bid for the presidency, was originally named in the complaint but a federal judge dismissed the case against him.

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They Ended Up in Decrepit Housing in Newark. Is New York to Blame?

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dec. 3, 2019

About 79,000 people currently live in a shelter or on the street in New York City, according to federal estimates.Credit...

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Julie Rodriguez’s apartment in Newark was so cold that the water in her dog’s bowl froze. At times, Sha-kira Jones’s apartment did not have heat or electricity. In Loreal Bell’s apartment, raw sewage seeped into the basement.

All three women had moved out of the New York City shelter system into what they described as decrepit conditions in Newark through a rental assistance program.

This week, the City of Newark sued New York, demanding that it stop using its Special One-Time Assistance program, arguing that New York was pressuring vulnerable people, desperate for housing, to accept substandard housing conditions and move. The suit also says the program, which pays a full year’s rent upfront, incentivizes unscrupulous landlords.

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