Rebuilding New Jersey’s Middle Class

Assembly Speaker Prieto and Colleagues
Hold Anti-Poverty Hearings

Rebuilding New Jersey’s Middle ClassOn January 28, 2016, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), Assembly Human Services Committee Chairwoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and committee members Angela V. McKnight (D-Hudson) and Patricia Egan Jones (D-Camden) gave opening remarks at the start of a four-committee hearing focused on rebuilding New Jersey’s struggling middle class.

NJ101.5 reported

“If we get right down to it, it’s incredible to think that the State of New Jersey has a higher poverty rate than it has had in the last 50 years,” said Prieto (D-Secaucus). “I want to rebuild the middle class by lifting people out of poverty. If we can do that, then the State of New Jersey’s future is very bright.”

According to a recent report by Legal Services of New Jersey, more New Jersey residents are in poverty now than in the past five decades.

The report estimates about 2.8 million adults and 800,000 children lived poverty in New Jersey 2014. That’s 40 percent higher than it was before the 2008 Great Recession.

Housing and Community Development was one of the four committees to hold hearings. The Committee heard testimony from invited guests and others regarding the housing needs and housing problems faced by residents of New Jersey living in poverty and transitioning out of poverty.

“The faces of poverty are the women, men and children not only in our cities, but also in our suburbs and rural areas. They are our neighbors in need of jobs, food, housing, education.”

Said Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the NJ Catholic Conference.

The three other committees holding hearings included human services, transportation and women and children.

The Record reported

“At the Human Service committee, Serena Rice, executive director of the Ewing-based Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, said her group’s ‘conservative’ estimate finds that one in five state residents are facing some level of economic shortfall because of the high cost of living in New Jersey.”

NJSpotlight reported,

“The high cost of housing was another focus of the day’s discussions. New Jersey is the fifth-most-expensive state in which to rent a two-bedroom apartment, at $1,309 a month, Housing and Community Network president Staci Berger told the Assembly housing committee. If housing is supposed to consume no more than 30 percent of income, that means a family must earn $52,347 a year to afford such an apartment — an impossible task for someone working at the minimum or even average wage, she said.

Yet efforts to create more affordable, safe housing have flagged, Berger said. Funds have been diverted from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to the State Rental Assistance Program, which she likened to ‘stealing from Peter to pay Paul.”

NJ Advance Media coverage

The Record coverage

NJ 101.5 coverage

NJSpotlight coverage