In late October, the New Jersey Assembly approved legislation (A.3101) that would allow individual counties in the state to create their own Homelessness Trust Funds with dedicated state funding. These funds would provide qualifying community organizations and county programs with additional capital for homelessness prevention and affordable housing projects. The bill sets targets for reductions in homelessness and timetables for drawing up county and state strategic plans. For more information on the New Jersey Homeless Trust Fund bill and similar programs, visit the Ending Homelessness in New Jersey website.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s economic recovery plan, unveiled on October 16th, includes several measures designed to add jobs, stimulate business activity, and stem the tide of home foreclosures in his state. Under the plan, $150 million in federal and state funds will go toward preventing home foreclosures through mortgage restructuring and purchasing, as well as financial counseling programs. To create an estimated 46,300 jobs, the plan calls for accelerating infrastructure projects already in development, including work on schools, roads, and transit services. Changes to the state tax policy, increased bank funds, and $3,000 credits for each new job a business creates are intended to stimulate further job growth and economic activity. The state Assembly has already passed many of these components. The Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey, a Restoring Prosperity Initiative partner, was pleased with the plan but is pushing for further foreclosure protections by promoting the Homeownership Preservation Act, which is currently working its way through the legislature.
Today, Monday, June 23, the full New Jersey Senate will take up S1783, its version of the Assembly’s comprehensive housing reform bill. If approved, it is expected to be passed by the Governor. The core elements of S1783 represent significant opportunities for New Jersey to provide safe, quality and affordable housing to residents of the state, including: creating a state housing plan and commission, promoting very low income housing, ensuring one-for-one replacement in redevelopment areas, making set asides for transit oriented development, encouraging local spending, eliminating regional contribution agreements (RCAs), addressing middle income affordability, and providing an impact analysis.
Click here to view the bill in entirety.
|Newark photo courtesy of Flickr user Tor-Erik Bakke|
New Jersey — Background
Despite its rank as one of the wealthiest states, many of New Jersey's cities are lagging behind the rest of the country. For Newark, Trenton, Camden, Atlantic City, and Patterson, low employment rates and concentrated poverty have held these urban centers back from succeeding.
Fortunately, these struggling cities have an array of assets, among them proximity to major metropolitan areas like New York City and Philadelphia, as well as physical advantages, including waterfront locations and institutions of higher education. After decades of decline, the time is right for New Jersey policymakers to take action.
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ) and New Jersey Future have been instrumental in advancing legislative victories in the state. In a recent example, the organizations backed comprehensive housing reform legislation, signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine in July of 2008, that put an end to a two-decades-old system that allowed upper-income suburban towns to meet at least part of their affordable housing obligations by paying poorer cities to build the housing there. The bill also established a statewide housing planning process, created a new statewide developer fee, and provided incentives for housing for very low-income residents.
State Partner: New Jersey Future
Contact: Teri Jover, tjover [at] njfuture [dot] org
State Partner: The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
Contact: Diane Sterner, dsterner [at] hcdnnj [dot] org