Candidates Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy Should Talk About this Bold Vision for Affordable Housing

Kim Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy: An Affordable Housing Plan Could Addressing Foreclosures, Vacant Housing and Outstanding Student Loan Debt Issues

On October 13, 2017, the Star-Ledger featured a guest column by Stephen H. O’Connor about why Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy should be talking about affordable housing.

O’Connor is the executive director of PlanSmart NJ and an adjunct professor at the Kislak Institute of Real Estate at Monmouth University.

Referencing the second gubernatorial debate on October 18, 2017, “It didn’t come until the 35th minute of the second gubernatorial debate, but each of the candidates finally uttered the words affordable housing and state planning. Admittedly, housing issues rarely ascend to the top of the platform for either statewide or national office, but whether you know it or not, New Jersey is in the middle of a housing crisis.”

The question that brought affordable housing into the debate was “Prompted by rising rents in Jersey City and Newark, is the displacement of low-income households. What policies do you envision to prevent long-standing residents from being displaced by gentrification?”

O’Connor references the National Low Income Housing Coalition‘s Out of Reach 2017 report that found New Jersey to be the 7th most expensive state in the country to afford housing.

And here is how the two candidates Lieutenant Governor Kim Kim Guadagno, the Republican candidate, and Ambassador Phil Murphy, the Democratic candidate, responded to the affordable housing question.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno replied “That we need to reprise the State Plan and revise the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to develop housing where the jobs are located, particularly along our transportation corridors. Bravo, right answer. Unfortunately, the Christie administration all but eviscerated the State Plan, as well as the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).”

“Ambassador Phil Murphy, a Democrat, countered that the Christie administration has simply ‘kicked the can’ down the road in terms of affordable housing. Under his vision, he would attempt to capture the tens of thousands of foreclosed properties and convert their status into affordable housing. His pledge is to help the ‘folks who fought and stayed in our urban communities’ by providing affordable housing. Once again, bravo, right answer.”

O’Connor suggests an initiative that addresses both the issue of the excessive amount of vacant and foreclosed residential properties in our state and the issue of outstanding student loan debt.

“What if we could devise a plan that made some of the 72,000-plus units in foreclosure plus the 388,456 vacant units across the state available to college graduates burdened by excessive student loan debt? If secured at a significant discount, why couldn’t we offer young and qualified households the opportunity to purchase a foreclosed home with a mortgage sufficient to cover both the cost of the home plus enough proceeds to retire their outstanding student loan debt?”

New Jersey’s election for governor will be held on Tuesday, November 7.

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