Federal HOME Program in Jeopardy
Funding Invested in Providing Housing Opportunities in Burlington County


The impact of potential federal budget cuts on Burlington County low income households was the topic of discussion today as housing developers, advocates, and local elected officials gathered at the Medford Senior Residences.  One cut in particular has those in the county considerably concerned and that's the HOME Investment Partnership Program.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been targeted by Congress for cuts in its ongoing appropriations discussions.  HOME is one of several programs vulnerable under the proposed budget cuts.  In the last fiscal year, HOME faced cuts from $1.82 billion to $1.6 billion.  This year, the Senate is proposing a 38 percent cut and the House of Representatives is proposing a 25 percent cut.

"We understand that Congress has to make tough choices, but in the economic crisis, our representatives must make creating homes and jobs a priority.  The HOME program is an integral part of putting New Jerseyans back to work and keeping seniors, like these residents, in homes that can afford," said Arnold Cohen, policy coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.  "We hope Congressman Runyan and his colleagues can visit places like Medford Senior Residences, and places like it around our nation, so they can fully appreciate the return on investing in HOME."

For the past 20 years, HOME has provided formula grants to states and localities that communities use, often in partnership with local nonprofit groups.  These grants fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, and/or rehabilitate affordable homes for rent or homeownership or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people.  The program has brought in close to $40 million statewide this year to eligible jurisdictions such as the Department of Community Development, counties and some municipalities.  Burlington County alone received $939,176 in HOME funds this year.

HOME has been extremely significant for Burlington where 51.4 percent of renters pay over 30 percent of their income on housing costs.  For homeowners, 39.5 percent with a mortgage pay over 30 percent of their income on housing costs while 24.1 percent without a mortgage pay also pay over 30 percent.  The need for a wide range of affordable home options in Burlington County is great and housing developers like Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development (MEND) is using HOME to meet that need.

"Federal HOME funding via Burlington County has been an indispensable part of MEND's ability to expand our affordable housing portfolio in the region," said Matt Reilly, president/CEO of MEND.

One of MEND's projects made possible with HOME funds is Medford Senior Residences.  Medford Senior is the only affordable home development for the elderly in its township.  The 36-unit project makes a significant contribution to the affordable home stock in affluent Medford and toward allowing seniors, whose income is 30 to 60 percent of the median income range, to remain in the community.

Today's event also featured testimonial from Mary Rock, a resident of Medford Senior who explained how living in the facility has impacted their lifestyle.  Burlington County's Department of Economic Development Program Supervisor Karen Trommelen was also on hand to discuss the effect HOME funding has had on the county as a whole and how Burlington has taken advantage of its allocated HOME dollars.

For more information on HOME, visit www.hcdnnj.org and to watch footage of the event, visit http://youtu.be/LLOXXOkK_uc.