Housing and Homelessness Advocates Share No Housing Cuts Theme in Stories With NJ Congressional delegation in DC
On July 26, 2017, over 450 advocates will travel to Washington, DC with the message No Housing Cuts.
Constituents will meet with New Jersey’s congressional delegation regarding investments in affordable homes to prevent and end homelessness. Advocates will urge legislators to oppose proposed devastating spending cuts to programs that give NJ residents access to affordable homes.
Due to low spending limits, the draft U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Committee bill, released earlier this month, provides at least $1.5 billion less than what is needed.
This proposed funding level will not maintain program levels and to ensure that every household in New Jersey currently receiving housing assistance remain in their homes.
The funding cuts in the House Bill are not as deep as President Trump’s proposed budget released in May. However, the bill significantly cuts funding that New Jersey relies on for critical affordable housing resources that rebuild the lives of extremely low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable population.
“The impact of sequestration and proposed further budget cuts reduces the budget of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as other domestic programs. The lack of affordable homes and the resources needed to maintain existing public housing creates an affordable housing state of emergency in New Jersey,” says Richard Brown, CEO of Monarch Housing Associates. “The state’s housing affordability crisis is exacerbated by the increasing lack of affordable homes and threats to Medicaid funding. Our elected officials in Washington should continue to fight cuts to housing funding. That is why we are advocating for No Housing Cuts.”
On July 26, advocates will convene in the Dirksen Senate Office Building to advocate for No Housing Cuts. Individuals impacted by homelessness and living in each New Jersey’s twelve congressional districts will directly address New Jeresey’s Congressional delegation, share their stories and explain how further cuts to housing funding would hurt low-income New Jereyans
“The Trump Administration’s proposed housing cuts are unfathomable and cruel,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network). “New Jersey’s economy has failed to keep pace with the rest of the nation; our residents and neighborhoods need investment and support so that we can get back on track. We urge our Congressional delegation to oppose these cuts, as many of them have, and to help build a thriving NJ by standing up for policies and programs that make sure we can all afford to call NJ home.”
Nohemy Zabala lives in Morristown with her mother will be in Washington, DC. She is sharing her story on July 26 because she says, “Housing waiting lists can go on for years. If a family does not have a place to go, they end up living in a shelter or on the street.” Recently homeless, Nohemy and her mother now live in their own home and this fall, she will attend Drew University. She worries that “further cuts to federal housing funding will result in fewer families offered opportunities for affordable homes.”
“We elect out Congress to be the voice of everyone – both the rich and the poor,” says Nohemy Zabala. “Many organizations want to help the many people experiencing homelessness that need help – the lack of willingness to help end homelessness is not the issue. The lack of funding is issue.”
Brian Kulas of East Brunswick will join Nohemy and other advocates traveling to Washington, DC, to tell his story. “I am very fortunate to have affordable housing. I believe that many people like me share the same potential to be an advocate,” says Brian who was once homeless but now lives in his own home, has attended college and become an advocate for affordable homes. “Stable affordable housing is not only a basic need but can be a cornerstone to recovery generating self-improvement. Funding for affordable housing builds stronger communities, fosters inclusion that builds unity, and breaks down social barriers between neighbors.”
“All of the improvements that I made in my life, began with my rental subsidy and having my own home – being given Housing First. A rental voucher gave me the opportunity to choose a new direction for my future, and discover a healthier way to live.” says Brian.
Policy experts from across New Jersey will also share their perspective on the impact in New Jersey from proposed funding cuts from Washington while advocating for No Housing Cuts.
“With a shortage of over 212,000 affordable homes in New Jersey and more people moving into the ranks of the working poor in recent years, housing cuts at the federal level would further devastate the 37% of residents of our state who struggle to meet all of their basic necessities with the high cost of housing,”says Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director Anti-Poverty Network (APN) of New Jersey, a partner organization in planning the Congressional Reception. “APN is proud to support the Congressional Reception as part of our statewide mission to prevent, reduce, and end poverty in New Jersey. The 450 people attending this year’s Congressional Reception include constituents from each congressional district who have lived experience of poverty and/or homelessness. These voices are critical to have as part of the dialogue for housing funding and solutions.”
Monarch Housing Associates has taken the lead in planning the Congressional Reception with 38 partner organizations from across New Jersey. All of partners, donors, and bus sponsors contribute to the success of the Congressional Reception and the advocacy for No Housing Cuts.
“Catholic Charities works to serve those in need and to empower them to build lives of dignity and economic security. We know how critical safe, affordable housing is to the well-being of families, and so we are distressed as we contemplate cuts in housing assistance,” says Kevin Hickey, Executive Director, Catholic Charities Diocese of Camden, a partner organization in planning the Congressional Reception “Faith-based groups and the non-profit sector do not have the resources to replace those functions which are the legitimate responsibility of government and the private sector. We believe in the common good, and governmental housing programs for the disabled, working people, and the poor are vital for the promotion of the common good.”
The Congressional Reception takes place in conjunction with “Our Homes, Our Voices,” the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)’s National Housing Week of Action. You can follow “Our Homes, Our Voices” at #OurHomesOurVoices.