HOUSING IS THE CRUX OF THE RECOVERY AND AFFORDABILITY EMPHASIZED IN STATE OF THE STATE
The U.S. Treasury has issued an additional $42 million for New Jersey’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the Murphy Administration announced today. Prior to the announcement, Governor Phil Murphy delivered the annual State of the State address which centered on affordability and pandemic recovery. On the announcement and the State of the State, Housing and Community Development Network of NJ President and Chief Executive Officer Staci Berger issued the following statement:
“The pandemic exacerbated the tremendous need for rental assistance in New Jersey, where lower income tenants routinely face eviction. COVID-19 demonstrated the deep connections between housing security, public health and systemic racism. Data from Princeton’s Eviction Lab has shown repeatedly that the threat of eviction is disproportionately borne by Black and Brown residents, especially single Black female heads of households. As a result, the virus has disproportionately harmed the health and safety of residents and communities of color.
“The additional $42 million in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program is a lifeline for the most-impacted residents who have been affected by COVID. We’re glad that the NJ Department of Community Affairs has delivered emergency rental assistance to the people and places who have suffered the most, with nearly 90 percent distributed to households earning at or below 50 percent of the area median income. Nearly half (45 percent) of the assistance has gone to residents who identify as Black/African American and nearly a third (29 percent) has gone to residents who identify as Hispanic.
“We were also encouraged by the Governor’s State of the State focus on pandemic recovery and affordability. In order to afford a modest two bedroom rental home at the fair market rent of $1,662 per month, a person would need to earn $31.96 per hour at 40 hours per week but the average renter wage in NJ is $19.38. Governor Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver have taken steps to address the shortage of affordable homes with investments from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The housing crisis created by the pandemic makes it clear these investments are needed now more than ever. Community organizations have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to build and maintain affordable homes and provide emergency and transitional housing to keep every resident safely and stably housed.
“Finally, we look forward to working with the administration to secure an economic recovery that makes our state equitable and affordable for everyone. We’ve made major strides towards racial, economic and social justice with the passage of the Fair Chance in Housing Act, the lead poisoning inspection and a landmark eviction protection program. In 2022, we will work with the Murphy-Oliver Administration, Senate President Scutari, Speaker Coughlin and the Legislature to achieve policies that support homeownership for Black and brown residents, expand tenant protections and close the racial wealth gap.”
About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.