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New Jersey State Senator introduces bill to ban investments in firms foreclosing in Puerto Rico

New Jersey State Senate President Pro Tempore M.Teresa Ruiz earlier today introduced a bill (S1914) to prohibit state investments in companies that target victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, by pursuing foreclosures – either directly or indirectly – during the foreclosure moratorium put in place by the federal government in the wake of the disaster.

From the New Jersey Senate Democrats press release:

“The people of Puerto Rico continue to suffer from the effects of Hurricane Maria months after the storm devastated the island. An overwhelming number of residents are without basic necessities, including electricity on some parts of the island, and are struggling just to get by,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “It is unconscionable that companies are targeting victims of this disaster with foreclosure actions. Our state should not be in the businesses of profiting from investments in companies that pursue home foreclosures and ignore the suffering and dire financial circumstances facing the residents of Puerto Rico.”

And:

The bill (S1914) prohibits the state from investing any assets of any pension or annuity fund under the management of the Division of Investment in the Department of the Treasury in any entity directly or indirectly engaged in mortgage foreclosures of property during periods of a federally announced mortgage foreclosure moratorium in a Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Area impacted by Hurricane Maria.

The bill also applies the investment prohibition to entities involved in mortgage foreclosures during extensions of those moratoria and during period of lapses in extensions of a moratorium. The bill is intended to withdraw from state investments in private equity funds that have holdings in mortgage companies that aggressively pursue home mortgage foreclosures on the island of Puerto Rico which was left devastated by Hurricane Maria.

The bill requires the Director of the Division of Investment to provide an (1) initial report detailing the current investments held in violation of the bill within 60 days of the date of enactment and (2) a monthly report detailing the progress made in disposing of those investments.

The bill follows a presentation by Maribel Soto of Make the Road New Jersey and Jim Baker of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project at the New Jersey State Investment Council earlier this month.

Media coverage:

New Jersey Spotlight, Feb 2, 2018: Alarm Over NJ Pension System’s Ties to Foreclosures in Puerto Rico

NJ.com, Feb 2, 2018: Can N.J.’s public pension fund help ease Puerto Rican foreclosure crisis?

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