New Jersey Homes Are Out of Reach 2011, Advocates Tell Legislators
Urge Governor, Legislators to Preserve Funding for Housing Programs


At a Statehouse hearing today, housing advocates and New Jersey residents discussed the recent report that found New Jersey to be one of the most expensive places in the country for renters.   Invited guests provided the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee with hard numbers as well as personal experiences that backed up the findings in the National Low Income Housing Coalition's Out of Reach 2011 report.  New Jersey ranked as the fourth most expensive state for renters, excluding Washington D.C.

"The families we serve struggle everyday to keep up with the high cost of their housing," said Celia Murphree Bernstein, director of operations/CFO for HomeFront, a non-profit agency providing a comprehensive network of services for the poor and homeless in Mercer County which .  "We are proud we have created 75 affordable homes in the past ten years but the climate today is making the continuation of that production almost impossible.  The need continues to grow."

The Assembly hearing allowed local residents and nonprofit developers the opportunity to share with legislators how New Jerseyans are directly affected by budget cuts to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and funding for the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP).  Describing the impact the development of affordable homes has on the local economy, Network Executive Board member and Paterson Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Barbara Dunn explained the return on investment.    

“I live in Bergen County and work in Passaic and those are the two most expensive counties in this state,” said Dunn. “I see the struggles of working families everyday trying to find quality, affordable places to live --  that's the inspiration for all of us in the nonprofit sector to keep fighting to bring equality of housing opportunities.  Moreover, with the collapse of the residential homebuilding sector, nonprofits are keeping the economy going and bringing tax payers to financially-stressed municipalities.  In Paterson, Habitat for Humanity has added over $23 million to the city tax rolls over the past 25 years and generates about $450,000 annually of business Paterson alone."

The committee hearing was part of the Housing and Community Development Network's annual lobby day which brings housing advocates together in Trenton to emphasize the need to create more affordable homes and jobs across the state.  Scores of advocates made their way to Governor Christie's office to deliver key card petitions on behalf of faith-based leaders, developers, renters, veterans, and the special needs community.  Pointing to the Out of Reach report which showed that there was a large percentage of renters unable to afford homes, the group appealed to the governor and legislators to protect the state's Affordable Housing Trust Fund and SRAP.

"The group here today come from all over the state and from a wide range of professions, incomes, and living situations." said Staci Berger, director of policy and advocacy for the Network.  "We're here today so legislators can learn exactly what's happening in the homes of their constituents.  Investing in homes and jobs in environmentally appropriate places with access to transit, by preserving the Trust Fund and funding SRAP is exactly what New Jersey’s economy needs right now.  Build more homes people can afford and they'll have more in their pockets to invest in the local economy."

The New Jersey data from Out of Reach 2011 is also available at For the complete report, please visit

For more information:  Nina Arce
(609) 393-3752 x12
(609) 789-7900
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