Towns Poised to Homes Families Can Afford but Need Critical Affordable Housing Fund Dollars to Leverage Investments
On May 10, 2018, NJ Spotlight, reported “The governor wants to use almost $78 million dedicated to building homes for low- and middle-income residents to plug holes in the general fund. As a candidate, Phil Murphy pledged he would not follow his predecessor’s path and divert affordable housing funds to plug holes in the state budget. But as governor, he is doing just that and more, proposing to take even more money away from two sources of housing funds than former Gov. Chris Christie.”
Governor Murphy’s $37.4 billion budget plan diverts $59.3 million from the state Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund was created to build homes for low- and moderate-income residents.
The diverted money would be used to pay for housing-related programs that would normally be funded through general revenues. Another part of the budget plans to take $18.5 million from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency (HMFA) for financing for affordable developments and instead dedicates that spending to general housing programs.
Affordable housing advocates are not pleased with this proposed diversion of funding for affordable homes. “It is distressing and it came as a surprise,” said Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “We are communicating our concerns both to the Legislature and the governor’s office.”
She called the Affordable Housing Trust Fund “the single largest source of public investment in affordable homes in the state.”
New Jersey has an affordable housing crisis. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC’s) Out or Reach Report, New Jersey was the 7th most expensive. A minimum wage worker would have to work 106 hours a week to be able to afford a fair-market rental unit.
“After the recession and New Jersey’s long climb out of it, development is getting underway around the state, and the money is needed to help ensure that continues and that people of modest means, including those with disabilities, are not shut out of homes.”
“More people with special needs are living more stably and independently than ever, but even as we have an ever-growing need — more people diagnosed with disabilities, struggling with addictions — and we know how to help and what works, we have a distressing situation,” said Diane Riley, executive director of the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey. “Towns are finally ready to create more affordable housing, but there are less and less capital dollars available to help create it. The timing is critical to leverage an investment using the affordable housing fund in the way it was intended — to create more housing.”
The Governor’s office has not commented on the proposal diversion of funds.