Housing is a Basic Human Need and We Must Provide an Affordable Place We Can All Call Home
Linda Flores-Tober, Executive Director of the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless wrote a guest column, “Making NJ an Affordable Place We Can All Call Home,’ published on August 10, 2017.
Flores-Tober provided background on New Jersey’s Mount Laurel doctrine and the fight to uphold it.
“As many residents in Union County, and across the state, are aware, New Jersey’s constitution prevents municipalities from using zoning powers to discriminate against lower income residents, and requires that every community provide a reasonable opportunity for affordable homes to be built. Mount Laurel, as this doctrine is known, has been the law of the land for over 40 years, and has helped improve the quality of life for New Jerseyans who make our economy hum and our neighborhoods strong: teachers, fire fighters, home health aides, bus drivers and security guards who want to live where they work.”
In the New Jersey State House, Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22) and his legislative colleagues has helped to protect the Mount Laurel doctrine. Governor Chris Christie and his allies have worked to end the Council on Affordable Housing.
“Christie vetoed efforts to make legislative changes to the Council, and few have done anything to help foster the improvements they say they want. Instead, they punted to the state Supreme Court, which has established a process for municipalities, housing advocates and non-profit community organizations to address housing needs in each community.”
But Flores-Tober gives us an important reminder.
“In the end this is not a partisan issue. Housing is a basic human need and not everyone can afford housing that is at market and luxury rates. Furthermore, we must provide for our workers – the cashier at McDonalds, the worker in the local day care and the stylist cutting your hair – all need a place to live that is affordable.”
Through her work at the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Flores-Tober sees “redlining” practices that are making it impossible for low-income and working households to find safe and affordable housing.
Flores-Tober concludes and making the case for why we all must work to make New Jersey affordable to all, “Like all problems that we turn our backs on, it will and does come back to bite us. Our own children cannot afford to leave home. Our own grandparents cannot afford to live independently. Homelessness is creeping up the economic ladder. That is why we must back the system we have and ensure that all may have housing.”