NJ Housing Advocates Endorse National Solutions for Eviction Crisis


The Housing and Community Development Network of NJ (“the Network”) applauds Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) for introducing the Eviction Crisis Act today.  The bill provides investments and tools to help end the nation’s continuing eviction epidemic.  In NJ over 150,000 families faced eviction last year. Among various other promising provisions, the legislation includes the creation of an Emergency Assistance Fund to test, evaluate, and expand proven interventions to help low-income households facing housing instability due to an unexpected economic shock.  This policy solution was developed and championed by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, which worked closely with the bill’s sponsors.  The Housing Community Development Network is the New Jersey lead organization for the campaign. 

The Emergency Assistance Fund is structured as a competitive grant program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with input from the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA).  Grants would be awarded to states and local governments to establish crisis assistance programs to prevent extremely low-income households from experiencing housing instability, including an imminent risk of eviction or homelessness, by providing short-term financial assistance and housing stabilization services.  At least three-fourths of the dollars must be used to provide direct financial assistance and up to one-fourth can be used to provide wrap-around services, such as counseling.  The bill also requires a rigorous evaluation of the program’s effectiveness in preventing housing instability.

“Every day, people become homeless who recently had a stable home, but whose lives and housing were disrupted by an economic crisis that a small amount of money could have fixed,” said Staci Berger, Network President and Chief Executive Officer. “Thanks to Senators Bennet and Portman for this legislation that would make such help available, preventing housing instability and homelessness and improving the lives of struggling Americans.”

In New Jersey, three-quarter of families in poverty who rent spend at least half of their incomes for housing, leaving virtually no margin for an unexpected expense.  Broken-down cars, unreimbursed medical bills, or temporary declines of income can quickly send vulnerable households down the spiral of housing instability, eviction, and even homelessness.  If enacted, the Emergency Assistance Fund could provide a blueprint for helping millions of low-income households that live on the edge of what they can afford. 

Leading state and national organizations from the housing, education, health, civil rights, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, criminal justice, child welfare, and faith-based sectors have come together through the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign to advocate for more robust and equitable federal housing policies. 

“Improving housing stability is not just about keeping people in their homes, but it’s also about providing them with the foundation they need for success in many other areas of life,” said Mike Koprowski, National Director of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.  “Stable, affordable homes are linked with better educational outcomes, better health outcomes across the lifespan, greater food security, upward economic mobility, and reduced costs to the taxpayer.”

“If enacted, the Eviction Crisis Act would create a new Emergency Assistance Fund to extend an emergency cushion to families in crisis.  Together, the bill would help families avert the downward spiral of housing instability and homelessness. We are committed to working with Congress to pass this bill”, said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.

For more information: Arnold Cohen
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