NJ Officials: ‘Build Back Better’ Must Include Housing Investments
Congressional, state legislators urge bill’s passage with key resources; Housing advocates launch campaign to #HouseNJ


Lawmakers from the New Jersey Congressional Delegation and the New Jersey Legislature today called on members of Congress to commit to funding from the “Build Back Better Act” that would expand rental assistance, fund public housing repairs, and grow the national Housing Trust Fund to build more affordable homes. The announcements were part of an event hosted by the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ (the Network) in support of the Network's HouseNJ campaign, which calls for federal- and state-level housing investments.

With the “Build Back Better Act” stalled in the U.S. Senate, state and national housing advocates are urging lawmakers to support essential Build Back Better Act investments in any upcoming budget reconciliation bill.

"It took us years to build back from the foreclosure crisis and now we run the risk of seeing all of our hard fought progress erased,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “That's why we must make the transformative investments in the President's ‘Build Back Better’ plan to address our country's affordable housing crisis. If this pandemic has taught us anything it's that housing is healthcare and at a time like this we should be doing everything we can to help families find a safe and affordable place to call home.”

"It is time for us to make long overdue investments to create, preserve and improve our affordable housing infrastructure," said U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). "We must use this opportunity to build back better and bring down the cost of housing, improve housing conditions, and remove historic barriers to housing access."

The Network’s HouseNJ campaign urges the Biden Administration and Congress to include the housing investments from the House-passed Build Back Better Act in any reconciliation deal, which is the expected path for the bill’s final passage. These investments will provide rental assistance to additional extremely low-income households, increase the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as repair and preserve public housing. If the House version of the “Build Back Better Act” were enacted, NJ would receive 21,000 new rental vouchers. The state would also receive $545.3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund for 5,000 new homes affordable to households at extremely low incomes. In comparison, NJ received $24.3 million in 2021.

“In our country, homelessness isn’t a necessary evil — it’s a policy choice. That means ending the housing crisis is also a policy choice,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12). “Progressives in Congress haven’t lost hope, and we’re demanding that funding for affordable housing stays in the federal reconciliation package. And I’m demanding that when the government sets aside funding for affordable housing, New Jersey gets its fair share.”

“It is an honor to support efforts to increase affordable housing in New Jersey,” said Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10). “I have been a strong supporter of federal investments in housing during my time in Congress.  I was proud to help pass the Build Back Better Act in the U.S. House of Representatives because it would invest billions of dollars for housing nationwide.  These investments are critical to creating affordable housing nationwide.” 

“We know that the security of a place to call home pays dividends to our communities in job stability and productivity and in the ability of students of all ages to reach their full potential,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) “Investments to expand that stability to all families are therefore not just important to those experiencing housing insecurity, but to our economy and competitiveness as a whole.”

"Congress cannot miss this moment of historic opportunity," said Kim Johnson, the senior policy analyst at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "Now is the time to keep pushing to get these resources across the finish line. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address homelessness and put the country on a path towards universal housing assistance so that we can end homelessness and housing poverty once and for all."

If adopted, these investments would address the cause of the affordable housing crisis and the severe shortage of affordable and available homes to households with the lowest incomes. Nationally, there is not a single state or Congressional district in the country with enough affordable and accessible homes to meet demand, leaving the lowest income renters at risk of eviction and homelessness. Despite clear and urgent need, only one in four households who qualify for a housing voucher actually receive one. In addition, generations of discriminatory housing policies enacted at all levels of government has resulted in people of color and other historically marginalized groups bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, said Johnson.

“Segregated housing policies, including redlining, have left minorities behind for generations, as home ownership among Black Americans is at a rate of 46 percent, compared to 76 percent for White Americans,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-9). “Simply put, these housing problems are devastating and systemic.”

“Given the scale and scope of the problem, I am concerned by proposals that would cut these investments from a potential smaller version of the ‘Build Back Better Act’,” said Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8) “American families need Congress to act swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion to enact permanent solutions to the affordable housing crisis, not kick the can further down the road at the expense of those who need support the most.”

HouseNJ 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. Advocates are calling for an expansion of the NJ Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program and rental assistance to name a few. In the coming days, members of the NJ Senate and Assembly will introduce a resolution in support of HouseNJ to urge passage of these vital housing investments on the federal and state level.

"We need to continue to ensure that we have the tools so that the quantity and the quality of affordable housing is available to our residents,” said Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “It is of critical importance that we fully fund the Trust Fund and make sure 'Build Back Better' is passed and in a thoughtful way.”

"Housing matters, it matters to the expectant mother, it matters to the family selecting a school for their child, it matters to the community,” said NJ Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). “We have to stop pretending we are a country that makes investments in infrastructure when we haven't in so long.”

“Let us not all forget that during our darkest days during the pandemic, maintaining affordable housing was a critical issue for every single individual,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic).

"Housing is the core and the epicenter of solving so many of our societal issues," said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-Essex/Passaic). "If we get housing right, we can fix so many other things."

"This would be the largest single investment in quality, affordable, accessible homes in our lifetime,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “It’s an opportunity to solve housing instability and homelessness. If we can send billionaires into space, we can make sure everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home.”

"We need to make sure that every resident who needs housing has the opportunity to get it," said Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth). "We're seeing a dramatic increase of mental health cases after the pandemic. Not having a stable home or a roof over their head, things we take for granted, creates that cycle of stress."

Berger noted that grassroots leaders and housing advocates from around the state will be organizing in their communities to secure support for these investments from all members of the NJ Congressional delegation. Senator Gopal and Assemblywoman Timberlake said they would be introducing legislative resolutions that call for the inclusion of these housing investments in the reconciliation bill.

To view today’s event in its entirety, visit: youtu.be/Io_CV0VaaJk. Learn more about HouseNJ at www.hcdnnj.org/housenj.

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: Nina Rainiero
(609) 393-3752 x1200
Website: hcdnnj.org
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