Advocates Urge Legislators to Take Action on Pandemic Housing Priorities
Over 100 housing leaders participate in annual Legislative Day


Over 100 housing advocates participated in a virtual Legislative Day, conducting dozens of meetings with members of the New Jersey Assembly and Senate last Wednesday. Conveying concerns over increased housing instability, they urged officials to fully fund the NJ Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF), implement post-pandemic housing protections for tenants and homeowners, and end discriminatory rental practices as well as childhood lead poisoning prevention. The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network), the statewide association representing over 275 community development organizations, hosted the event.

The proposed FY22 state budget diverts $57 million from the AHTF, which is legally intended to create affordable homes for low- and moderate-income families, into other programs, some for higher-income families. During the event, legislative leaders, advocates and residents discussed the impact of the AHTF and the need to address NJ’s pandemic-related housing crisis.

“There's not nearly enough affordable housing as we should have and that's why I'm supporting a resolution in order to increase the funding for affordable housing in the Department of Community Affairs,” said Senator Shirley Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer) “I am adamantly opposed to diverting $57 million out of the affordable housing trust fund. We need to put more money into it, not divert money from it.”

“NJ is a strong and resilient state and we have a chance at a post-pandemic recovery that will allow us to thrive,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “The federal government has proposed providing critical financial support that invests in making homes affordable for people who have long struggled to make ends meet. We are looking forward to working with our state leaders to take action on initiatives that make NJ a place everyone can afford to call home.”

Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake (D-Essex/Passaic), a sponsor of legislation providing protections to renters and homeowners impacted by the pandemic said, "Black and Brown wealth is bleeding because of foreclosure. We will not stand idly by to witness a deeper housing crisis than what we are already in."

Parkside Business and Community in Partnership Project Coordinator Asha Anderson shared her story of achieving affordable homeownership through a program offered by the nonprofit developer thanks to resources like the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

“It's not that people are not hardworking, it's the cost of living. Everyone is living paycheck to paycheck which is a quick road to just crumbling. I'm very grateful to be part of the initiatives here to break more cycles and systems in our community,” said Anderson.

In addition to urging legislators to protect the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, advocates urged support for the Fair Chance in Housing Act also known as “ban the box” on the eve of the vote in both legislative chambers. The “ban the box” bill would remove obstacles for prospective renters with criminal history by preventing landlords from discriminating against individuals who have been convicted of a crime. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature.

Housing advocates also discussed lead paint remediation legislation to prevent childhood lead poisoning which continues to be a widespread issue disproportionately affecting Black and Brown communities. Legislation to require municipalities to inspect every single-family and two-family rental home for lead paint at least every five years awaits consideration in the Assembly.

"Housing security and stability make an enormous and tangible difference in people's lives,” said John Restrepo, director of the Division of Housing and Community Development at Jersey-City-based Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC) and chair of the Network Board of Directors. “While everyone's experience is different, there's one common thread and that's trying to build a more stable future for themselves and their families.”

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 275 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

For more information: Nina Rainiero
(609) 393-3752 x1200
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