Tax Proposal Threatens Housing Affordability

Berger Op-ed Makes Case for Realty Transfer Fees

Staci BergerIn an April 24, 2014, op-ed in the Star-Ledger, Staci Berger, president and chief executive of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ), for not eliminating the Realty Transfer Fee.

The repeal is an issue that has gained momentum since Governor Christie said he would support a repeal and Senator Diane Allen said she would sponsor a bill. Click here for more information on the background of this issue.

New Jersey’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, supported by a portion of the realty transfer tax, is intended for the development of capital projects, creating the homes our residents need and want. Cutting the realty transfer tax would be detrimental to so many residents who are working hard to make ends meet.

The foreclosure crisis and Hurricane Sandy have moved former homeowners into the rental market, further putting a squeeze on the market. Community developers and private-sector investors have projects that could begin immediately if funding was available. The economic impact of this funding can help move New Jersey forward.

Even in this past year with lower home sales, the realty transfer tax created a fund of $48 million. If $25 million were to be used to build homes, the trust fund would generate $100 million in private investment, 1,100 jobs and $1.3 million in local property tax revenue. Unless the governor can deliver on a viable alternative funding source for the trust fund, we cannot afford to cut the realty transfer tax.

This proposal would affect people like Vicky, a client of the Affordable Housing Alliance in Monmouth County who was once an administrative professional with a studio apartment, before falling victim to a series of layoffs and a serious illness. She became homeless in July 2012 and has since bounced between shelters and motels, relying on emergency service benefits and social services when available.

She began living in her car when her emergency housing benefits ran out, but was forced to sell it when she could no longer afford the insurance. Vicky found work making $8.25 an hour, 15 hours a week, but after taxes, she takes home less than $400 a month. She is actively seeking more sustainable employment, but competition for decent paying jobs is fierce.

Vicky is not alone. Too many New Jerseyans find Vicky’s situation one they can relate to, and that is why we need to take action.

Hardworking families, seniors and individuals living with special needs depend on their elected officials to support solutions that improve our economy. Eliminating a key funding source without an alternative would do the opposite. We need solutions that are going to develop the homes New Jerseyans want and need, which will subsequently help create a thriving economy.

Said Ms. Berger.

We strongly agree with her assessment. What can you do to help stop this repeal?

  • Contact your state senator or assembly member and let them know that the Realty Fee should not be repealed. Click here to find you legislators and how to contact them.

Click here for a Fact Sheet.