THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS for the amazing job you have done in the last few days to urge the Governor and members of the Legislature to restore the $10 million cut they originally proposed to the State Rental Assistance Program. These decisionmakers have certainly heard from you – and have gotten an education in the process. We have counted hundreds of phone calls and we believe approximately 1,000 faxes since last Thursday. What a tremendous show of strength!
We are very pleased to report that, because of your advocacy and action, we are close to having an agreement with the Corzine Administration and Legislative Leaders to solve this mistake. The proposal will restore the $10 million, so that the State Rental Assistance Program remains level funded in the coming year – $17.5 million from general revenue and $20 million from Balanced Housing. The following language has been added to the budget resolution as a direct result of your efforts (you can view this language by clicking here and clicking on the text of Budget Bills A5000 and S3000):
” In addition to the amount appropriated hereinabove for the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP), an amount not less than $20,000,000 is allocated from the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund to SRAP for the purposes of subsections a. and c. of section 1 of 39 P.L.2004, c.140 (C.52:27D-287.1).
In addition to the amount hereinabove appropriated for the State Rental Assistance Program, there is appropriated an amount not to exceed $10,000,000 for the same purpose, subject to the approval of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee, upon a determination by the Commissioner, after consultation with the State Treasurer, that the amounts herein appropriated for both the State Rental Assistance Program and from the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund are insufficient to fund all State Rental Assistance Program costs and to fund affordable housing units. Appropriations referred to the Joint Budget Oversight Committee shall be deemed approved unless a resolution of disapproval is adopted within 5 working days of receipt of the proposed appropriation. “
In addition, we wanted to share with you the letter we received from Governor Corzine, acknowledging the situation and stating his intention to continue to work on affordable housing issues with us. The full text appears below.
Paige Carlson-Heim Managing Director
Rev. Bruce Davidson Co-Chair Homes for New Jersey 145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618
I’d like to take this opportunity to share my views on one of the most vexing problems facing this state and one for which organizations such as the Housing Community Development Network (HCDN) and Homes for New Jersey, among others, do an outstanding job advocating: affordable housing.
As you know too well, skyrocketing housing prices have contributed to making New Jersey simply unaffordable for too many families. In order to address this problem we need a truly comprehensive housing policy that will provide New Jersey residents with a choice of housing options that are affordable and sustainable. That is why I am committed to creating and preserving 100,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years. I want to work with you to meet this goal.
Despite the fiscal crisis that New Jersey continues to face, I am committed to ensuring that we maintain our funding commitment to existing affordable housing programs, and we are currently working on language to ensure that we meet that goal. My future budgets will reflect this goal as well.
Together, we have already begun taking important steps to provide safe and affordable housing to the residents of this state. Since I’ve become Governor, we have provided funding for over 10,000 affordable housing units. My fiscal 2008 budget doubles the amount of funding for property tax rebates for tenants to $25.1 million, which will provide a rebate to nearly 800,000 tenants, and is targeted toward lower-income tenants. .
Additionally, the fiscal 2008 budget also includes a commitment to low-income workers to expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) eligibility to match the federal criteria. As you know, the EITC is a targeted income tax benefit that helps low-income working individuals earn their way out of poverty and into self sufficiency. An estimated 292,000 workers will benefit from this expanded eligibility, which would increase total program participation to approximately 500,000 workers. In addition, we plan to raise the benefit level in future years.
Again, thank you and your members for your tireless advocacy on behalf of an issue that affects too many hard working families and individuals in New Jersey. I look forward to working with you on addressing the need for more affordable housing in a comprehensive manner.
JON S. CORZINE
Again, we appreciate everything you have done and continue to do. As we said at the membership meeting, we can’t take anything for granted, so keep talking to your representatives about this issue. Of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any one of us at the Network!