Watson Coleman explains how New Jersey’s Fair Housing laws have been vital in ensuring the development of affordable housing. Ten years ago, when she was a member of New Jersey’s General Assembly, Watson Coleman and others worked to pass A500, legislation which closed a loophole that had previously allowed suburban towns to foist their affordable housing obligations onto poorer communities.
A500, signed into law by former New Jersey Governor John Corzine in 2008, made it easier for low and middle-income families in the state to find affordable housing.
The legislation overhauled the state’s affordable housing regulations and increased the amount of money available to remodel affordable homes.
Just as importantly, A500 has addressed New Jersey housing policies that reinforce discrimination and exclusion.
Watson Coleman believes that this legislation has helped integrate New Jersey. She explains, “About 215 towns currently have fair housing plans in place, paving the way for the construction of tens of thousands of new homes for working families, seniors and people with disabilities. These agreements also expand opportunities for families of color to live in safe neighborhoods, close to good schools and jobs.”
Watson Coleman describes the benefits of living in an integrated society. According to Watson Coleman, those in integrated communities have better health outcomes, are more likely to be employed by high paying jobs and have better access to high quality education.
Although there have been gains concerning the creation of housing and the integration of neighborhoods, New Jerseyans and their representatives must remain vigilant given the proposed changes made by the Trump Administration. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson wants to cut funding for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program and raise the minimum rent for low-income families.
New Jersey Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen) held a hearing the week of July 23, 2018 about the status of New Jersey’s current affordable housing crisis. Wimberly and others pushed back on these housing setbacks.
Watson Coleman concludes, “We need to reject attempts to re-segregate New Jersey and build on a strong foundation that makes our state a model for a nation that is fighting against attacks on our civil rights.”
On a related note, on July 25, 2018, Watson Coleman attended the Congressional Reception in Washington, D.C. and spoke to her constituents about the importance of preventing cuts to housing funding.