Advocate for Homes We Can Afford

Giving a Voice to Those Who Need

Staci BergerOn July 23, 2014, NJ Spotlight profiled Staci Berger, Housing and Community Development Network (the Network) President and CEO. The article highlights Berger’s career and accomplishments.

One of the biggest challenges for the network is that the state has relentlessly underfunded community development, which makes it difficult for members to create homes and jobs in thriving neighborhoods, Berger says.

“According to Realtytrac, New Jersey is number one in the nation in foreclosure filings sparked by the economic crisis of 2008 and destruction from Hurricane Sandy. Thus, New Jersey’s housing development community needs a strong advocate. Berger speaks loudly and insistently on its behalf.”

One of the biggest challenges for the network is that the state has relentlessly underfunded community development, which makes it difficult for members to create homes and jobs in thriving neighborhoods, Berger says.

Still spiraling from the foreclosure crisis, members do not have enough resources and the current administration’s lack of a comprehensive response only worsens the housing climate. There are no dollars being put in to ensure that mortgages match the value of the homes and little money going to foreclosure counseling. Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed several bills designed to clean up the Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act that would make more homes affordable before they go into foreclosure.

In 2011, $75,000,000 was allocated for foreclosure remediation but was used instead to backfill gaps in the 2011 general budget. For the past four years the Affordable Housing Trust, intended to be a source of state investment in affordable homes, has been raided for funds to help close gaps in the general state.

To counteract these shortfalls, Berger and partners, including Fair Share Housing and the Supportive Housing Association, as well as others, have saved the $126,000,000 of the local-housing trust fund from what Berger calls the “black hole of the budget.”

“’One gentleman, who I testified with, was a retired veteran living in a tent in someone else’s backyard,’ she said. ‘I think our recovery has been lackluster and not as compassionate as people who have been through a disaster, not of their own making, should be.”

Said Berger about the Network’s advocacy work around the recovery in New Jersey from Sandy.

Sandy recovery gives the network an opportunity to say, ‘we can help,’ to participate and to be a thoughtful partner for struggling communities, which is the network’s core mission.

Monarch Housing Associates is a proud member of the Network.

Click here for the full article.