Trust Fund Debate Continues to Draw Media Attention
The fate of New Jersey’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund continues to draw press coverage. On Sunday, April 15, 2012 The Star-Ledger reported on the response from municipalities who face the prospect of losing their trust fund money to the state.
Local communities such as Marlboro, Livingston, West Orange and Fairfield face having to return funding by July 17, 2012 and North Brunswick is moving quickly to create affordable housing using an existing complex ahead of the deadline.
“It seems (state officials) want to chip away at the municipalities,” North Brunswick Mayor Francis Womack said. “There seems to be a theme that we don’t trust the municipalities and the local government.”
As Monarch Housing has previously reported, local communities who have not spent their affordable housing trust funding for low and moderate income households will lose their share of the $169 million to the state in July. The Department of Community Affairs and the State defends its position stating that the cities and towns knew about the impending deadline. On the other side, affordable housing advocates voice concern that the State’s plan for the funding may not match its original intent.
Since the Democratically controlled state legislature has to approve the budget bill, the State’s plan to capture the funds is only a proposal at this point. And there are alternatives. Two Democratic State Senators have proposed a bill that would use what remains of the $169 million to purchase foreclosed homes and offer the properties to low and moderate income families.
But as the debate continues, it is important for both sides to keep in mind the true intention of the affordable housing trust fund. Sunday’s article profiles an excellent example of someone who benefits from existing affordable housing. Esther Greene, a retired teacher living in affordable housing in Marlboro, says in response to the negative attitude towards the complex that is her home “But would they want their mother to live in the street?”
Regardless of whether or not communities welcome neighbors like Esther, all of our communities need affordable housing to ensure that everyone can afford to live in the towns and cities of their choice. And what a shame it would be to lose the opportunity to create homes for them.