A Decent Home in a Good Neighborhood Determines Opportunity

Staci Berger, Steve Berg and Mike Koprowski speaking at the 2018 Congressional Recpetion

Our Elected Officials in Washington Should Invest in Homes New Jerseyans Can Afford

Three of Monarch Housing Associates’ state and national partners spoke at this year’s Congressional Reception.

First, Staci Berger, President of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, spoke about the history and critical importance of the Congressional Reception.

She explained, “This is about being self-reliant, independent, and successful and making sure that we are paying it forward so that the next generations of folks who come after us have a safe and affordable place to call home.”

Staci described how in New Jersey, the 6th most expense state to rent a home in, increasing housing costs contribute to housing unaffordability and homelessness. She urged the audience to tell their elected officials to pay attention to these statistics and invest in homes families can afford so that every New Jerseyan has a place to call home.

Staci then introduced Mike Koprowski, the National Campaign Director for the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign.

Opportunity Starts at Home was launched by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition with four national partners and is led by a steering committee of an expanded group of partners. “ Opportunity Starts at Home” one of the themes of this year’s Congressional Reception.

Mike stressed how the goal of this new campaign is to make homes that everyone can afford a national priority for all. He informed his audience, “Three quarters of the lowest income renters are paying more than half of their income on rent every month.”

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) 2018 Out of Reach Report, a minimum wage worker in New Jersey needs to work 107 hours a week in order to afford the average rental.

Mike declared, “This is not just a housing problem, its bigger than that. Having a decent home that you can afford in a good neighborhood determines whether you are going to have opportunity in this country, it determines your chances of achieving the American Dream.”

He explained how when families have safe and affordable homes, that kids do better in school, people are healthier, there are lower instances of asthma, and kids are more likely to go to college.

Steve Berg Vice President of Programs and Policies from the National Alliance to End Homelessness spoke later at the Reception.

Steve asked the 350 plus attendees at the Congressional Reception, “Does anybody here think you can actually end homelessness?”

Steve then explained how when there have been focused efforts on getting veterans out of homelessness they have been extremely effective. Now, the challenge in front of us is getting our elected officials in Congress to put money on the table for effective programs for all homeless populations.

Steve explained, “We know how to do it, it’s just a matter of how we get the amount of resources on the table from the U.S. Congress to make it happen”

He explained how there are two big things that need to be done in order to end homelessness.

  • First, there needs to be a response from the community that includes a local emergency response system to keep people from becoming homeless.
  • Second, the United States need to solve the big housing problems preventing people from affording decent housing. There needs to be permanent solutions to the housing crisis.

Monarch Housing Associates would like to thank all of the partners and those who spoke at the Congressional Reception.

Opportunity Starts at Home Video

Steve Berg Video

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