House NJ Campaign: 'Build Back Better' by Addressing Housing Affordability and Security
Economic recovery package must invest key resources to address affordability crisis, says NJ housing and community development leaders
As Congress negotiates President’s Biden economic recovery package, the Build Back Better Act, New Jersey housing advocates are joining national organizations calling for housing investments to be included in the legislation’s final version. The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) today launched the House NJ campaign which calls for public investments that create housing availability, affordability, and security.

“Housing insecurity remains an immense threat to public health and safety.  President Biden and Congress must include transformative housing investments in the Build Back Better reconciliation package and the federal budget,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “The alarming number of families dealing with eviction, foreclosure, and homelessness across the country also puts our health and our economy at risk. Our elected leaders can and should do better, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make investments that will stabilize families in crisis and strengthen our communities.”

The House NJ campaign is built on the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s effort. HoUSed, which advances anti-racist policies to achieve the large-scale, sustained investments and reforms necessary so that households with the lowest incomes have an affordable place to call home. Specifically, the campaign calls on Congress to:

  • Expand rental assistance to additional extremely low-income households, including those experiencing and at risk of homelessness.
  • Increase the National Housing Trust Fund to build affordable, safe homes for households with the greatest needs.
  • Repair and preserve public housing, which is home to 2.5 million residents across the country. Public housing is critical to ensuring people with the greatest needs have a safe, decent, affordable, and accessible place to call home, and the preservation of this community asset must be included in any strategy to ensure housing is a human right. 
House NJ also seeks policy and program interventions on the state level urging Governor Murphy and legislative leaders to invest $975 million from the American Rescue Plan in critical housing programs including:

  • Protect and Expand the NJ Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Funding for this item must remain in place and grow. The AHTF should continue to serve NJ’s lower-wealth residents and not be diverted for any other purposes.
  • Increase the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit. The Neighborhood RevitalizationTax Credit (NRTC) is one of the most successful and responsible tax credit programs in NJ.
  • Strengthen Rental Assistance and End Homelessness. This includes expanding project-based vouchers for the State Rental Assistance Program, addressing chronic homelessness and extending emergency rental assistance. 
  • Remove Barriers to Housing Access & Security. Policymakers can make it easier for NJ residents to find and keep stable, affordable homes by adopting innovative changes. These include: removing credit scores for voucher holders, allowing families and communities to purchase foreclosed properties to preserve wealth, adopting a first-generation homeownership program, and more.
“These are investments that are going to make a significant difference in the lives of our most vulnerable residents, create opportunities for New Jerseyans to thrive, and break down the barriers that widened the racial wealth gap,” said Berger. “As diverse as we are, New Jersey is also a deeply segregated state. As a result of years of systemic racism and institutional inequities, Black and Brown families are much less likely to be homeowners. Homeownership is the single largest mechanism by which families create and maintain wealth, so we must take concrete steps to solve this divide.

According to the NJ Institute for Social Justice’s "Erasing NJ's Red Lines" report, the average U.S. homeowner has household wealth of $231,400, while the average renter has household wealth of only $5,200. A total of 77 percent of the state’s white households own a home; by contrast, less than half (41 percent) of Black households do. The explanation for this statistic lays in the median net worth for NJ households. The media net worth of a White family is $352,000—the highest in the nation—but for NJ’s Black and Latino families, it is just $6,100 and $7,300, respectively.  

“We can build back better and equitably to help create a more affordable NJ for generations to come,” said Berger.    

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