Affordable housing groups tout their economic importance

Published December 2, 2015
By Terrence McDonald

JERSEY CITY — Nonprofit residential and commercial development firms have contributed nearly $1.2 billion to the economies of Hudson and Bergen counties over the past 25 years, supporting 7,800 jobs in the process, according to a report from a consortium of nonprofits.

The figures amount to 10 percent of the total impact these nonprofits have had on New Jersey's economy since 1989, Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said today.

The report's findings show that not only do nonprofit development groups help find people homes, they are also "an important part of the economy," Berger said.

Berger's group, which represents more than 250 community development nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to creating affordable housing, commissioned the report. She presented some of its findings today at New Jersey City University along with local public officials.

The report says the nonprofits have pumped $12 billion into New Jersey's economy since 1989. Here in Hudson County, the nonprofits' economic impact has been $891 million in the last 25 years as they've undertaken work at 82 developments, according to the report. In Bergen County, the economic impact was $284 million because of work at 68 developments, the report says.

The report was first issued in December 2014. Berger said her group is touring individual counties to tout its findings and to show the economic importance of nonprofit development groups in the face of losses in federal and state funding.

One of the groups is Garden State Episcopal, and its director of housing and communuity development, John Restrepo, told The Jersey Journal today that while typical developers seek to build where the real-estate market is strong, nonprofit groups like his focus on "distressed markets."

"We're usually the first ones in," Restrepo said. "We light a match to the market, ignite it."

Terrence T. McDonald may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @terrencemcd. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.