Advocacy alert: Affordable housing funding threatened as NJ lawmakers battle over state budget

You don’t have to listen very hard to hear groans when it comes to talk about New Jersey’s housing prices. The Garden State ranks among the bottom half of all states when it comes to almost any housing indicator.

New Jersey leads the nation in foreclosures, with nearly 70,000 properties statewide going through foreclosure, according to the real estate data firm ATTOM Data Solutions. It’s the sixth most expensive state to rent a home, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It also ranked the third worst in the country in delinquent mortgage loans and has the third-highest rate of cost-burdened homeowners (36.5 percent spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs), according to the Prosperity Now Scorecard.

That’s why now is the time to ask your representatives to preserve programs, like the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF), that help people find – and stay in – affordable homes. A transfer tax on every house sale in New Jersey was intended to generate revenue earmarked for affordable housing development. But since 2009, the money has often gotten redirected to other state housing programs. Gov. Phil Murphy’s current budget proposal diverts millions from the AHTF to other uses.

“Despite NJ’s housing affordability crisis, resources intended to alleviate the problem continue to be diverted,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “The proposed state budget once again siphons the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which is legally intended for the creation of affordable homes. The legislature and the governor must solve this crisis because our economy cannot thrive if our residents cannot afford to call NJ home.”

Mosudi Idowu oversees the efforts of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton to help people secure affordable housing.

“The cost of renting is generally very high in New Jersey,” said Idowu, program director of Catholic Charities Rapid Rehousing in Mercer and Burlington counties. “To some families, it is a decision between whether to pay for housing, food, and health care or become homeless and move to a shelter. Nobody should have to face that decision.”

Nearly 900 people obtained permanent housing and another 2,600 received help with emergency housing and rent and utility assistance in Central Jersey through Catholic Charities last year. In Mercer County, Rapid Rehousing won national recognition in 2016 from the National Alliance to End Homelessness for its work in reducing homelessness.

“We at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton do more than offer assistance and support for housing. We also train, coach, encourage and help consumers to attain housing stability,” Idowu said.

Lawmakers have just four days left before the June 30 deadline to adopt a state budget. Read the latest on the budget battle here.

Urge your lawmakers to preserve much-needed funding for affordable housing: Gov. Murphy, (609) 292-6000; Senate President Steve Sweeney, (856) 251-9801; Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, (732) 855-7441.

For more information, contact: Marketing writer Dana DiFilippo at ddifilippo@cctrenton.org or (609) 394-5181, ext. 1153.

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