Over 350 Convene ‘Under One Roof’ to Celebrate NJ Community Development Efforts and Achievements
Conference attendees delve into racial equity, homelessness, disaster recovery, tenant rights, and housing affordability


Over 350 community development leaders, housing advocates and policy makers convened on Friday, October 20, to discuss investments, policies, and best practices to help HouseNJ and strengthen NJ communities. Organized by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network), Under One Roof: The Network’s Annual Community Development Conference and Membership Meeting included topical workshops, awards for municipalities engaged in affordable housing development as well as for nonprofit organizations and public officials that have made a lasting impact on the community development sector.

“Our members and partners are proud to work together to ensure housing security for all of our residents, while supporting a vibrant economy in New Jersey,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “As we emerge from the pandemic, we are committed to making sure everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home in thriving neighborhoods. Community developers are committed to delivering resources to all our communities and dismantling systemic and institutional racism that keep people from securing housing stability and generational wealth. Our work relies on partnerships and investments from the public, health, and financial sectors. Under One Roof brings everyone together to celebrate the work we do and learn from each other.”

Partnerships with the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) in particular, have helped to drive much of the neighborhood revitalization and affordable home development in the state. NJHMFA Executive Director Melanie Walter delivered remarks while recently appointed DCA Acting Commissioner Jacquelyn A. Suárez delivered the keynote.

“Safe, stable, and affordable housing is a priority for the Department of Community Affairs and the Murphy Administration,” said Acting Commissioner Suárez. “We have been engaged in a broad effort to ensure that every family, no matter their circumstances, can find an affordable place to live in a community of their choice. Together, with community development practitioners, housing advocates, and financial sector partners, we’re coming together as a team to work towards that goal.”

In recognition of 16 years of service and dedication to creating healthy and affordable communities, the Network presented NJ Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (D-27) with the Honorable Jerry Green Legacy Award, an honor named after her colleague, friend and mentor, Assemblyman Jerry Green. Jasey, who is currently serving her final term in the NJ Assembly, was recognized for being a driving force behind NJ’s land bank legislation, the Mortgage Stabilization and Relief Act, the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Act, and the landmark A500 Affordable Housing Act.

“Housing, education, and health are intertwined and while we have come a long way towards creating healthy homes and communities, we are not there yet," said Asw. Jasey. “This work is my passion, and I am proud to have been part of the fight for fair and equitable housing opportunities for our Black and Brown communities, lower income families and residents living with special needs. My time in the Legislature is coming to an end but I will continue to be an advocate for healthy and affordable homes.”

The Network also presented NJ Department of Community Affairs Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Division Housing and Community Resources Janel Winter with the inaugural Sheila Y. Oliver Community Development Award. The award was renamed after the late Lieutenant Governor and NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Sheila Y. Oliver who passed away last summer. Under Winter's leadership, DCA's housing division has been responsive to the needs of vulnerable residents especially during the pandemic, providing programs and accommodations to help people stay in their homes. The department’s relief programs have been so successful that NJ has been granted additional Federal Emergency Assistance funding on several occasions.

“We were able to navigate through the massive challenges presented by the pandemic because of Sheila Oliver’s commitment and support,” said Winter. “Tens of thousands of New Jersey residents were able to secure stable housing because it was a priority for our department because we know that housing is health. I am deeply honored to be presented with this inaugural award.”

Also receiving honors were Make the Road New Jersey for Exceptional Community Partner and New Brunswick Tomorrow for Advocacy and Organizing. Receiving the awards for Outstanding Municipal Partners were Monarch Housing Associates and the Borough of Upper Saddle River, Princeton Community Housing and the Municipality of Princeton, Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity and Manchester Township, Clinton Hill Community Action and the City of Newark.

The event was sponsored by JP Morgan Chase, M&T Bank and Valley National Bank among others. Featured sessions included topics on healthy homes, tenant protections, housing counseling, land acquisition, neighborhood revitalization, racial equity, and state and federal public policy. The full program for the event is available at www.hcdnnj.org/network-conference.

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.