NJ Ripe for Community and Economic Recovery, Advocates Tell Legislators
Assembly hearing examines affordable home development post-Sandy


Today at an Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee hearing, housing advocates, developers, and New Jersey residents shared with lawmakers the unique opportunities and challenges created by Superstorm Sandy. Citing the critical need for more affordable homes in New Jersey, testimony outlined potential legislative action to ensure equitable and sustainable redevelopment.

"We're thrilled that New Jersey beaches are back and open for business but we're still hearing heartbreaking stories everyday about displaced residents who are struggling to find an affordable home," said Staci Berger, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "Our members and partners are ready, willing and able to do the work needed to create affordable home opportunities and rebuild our communities. The governor and state legislators have a duty to all of our residents to do everything in their power to provide them with  an equal chance to recover and rebuild."

Members of the committee heard testimony from two Jersey Shore-based nonprofit housing developers. Ted Gooding, executive director of Ocean Inc. and Suzan Fichtner, executive director of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity shared their experiences working to build homes in Sandy devastated communities.

“Rebuilding is a tremendous task and we are happy to say we are finally bringing families back home,” said Fichtner. “We are far from the finish line though and we need our legislators to continue to support our work.”   

Newark's Ironbound section was dealing with a foreclosure and neighborhood blight problem before Sandy left behind significant flooding and destruction. Reminding legislators of the far reaching impact of Sandy, Ironbound Community Corporation's Community Development Program Manager Drew Curtis explained why urban communities must be included in rebuilding efforts.

"We need more resources to continue to stabilize our cities that continue to be plagued by foreclosure and abandonment," said Curtis. "Too many homes are blighted and they must be rehabilitated to reverse urban disinvestment and make urban areas vibrant places again. New Jersey should take the lead in creating resources to complete this redevelopment, which is especially needed today with so many people displaced by Sandy."

Housing advocates also spoke to legislators on the impact the Christie Administration's attempt to seize municipal housing trust funds would have on affordable home development especially in Sandy distressed communities. According to advocates, $80 million in housing trust fund dollars are currently based in the nine designated Sandy counties and would have a significant impact on the efforts to rebuild those communities.

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.  

The Housing and Community Development Network is the state wide association of more than 250 community development corporations and other organizations working together to create affordable homes, expand economic opportunities, and build strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.

For more information: Nina Arce
Housing & Community Development Network of NJ
(609) 393-3752 x12
[email protected]
Twitter site:  twitter.com/hcdnnj
Facebook site:  facebook.com/hcdnnj