NJ Community Development Leader Testifies Before U.S. Congressional Committee on Expanding Housing Access

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Oversight Subcommittee hosted a virtual hearing earlier this month on expanding housing access to all Americans. The following are highlights of testimony offered by Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) President and Chief Executive Officer Staci Berger:

“Competition for quality, affordable homes is fierce everywhere because the housing market is out of balance. New Jersey has seen this happen in multiple cycles, after the Great Recession and then after Superstorm Sandy. Here and across the country, millions of tenants were struggling to pay rent before the pandemic. Now, six million renter households are at risk of losing their homes when the federal eviction moratorium ends on July 31. Congress provided $46 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance, but these funds have been slow to reach renters in need. While New Jersey renters are getting resources more quickly than many other states, millions of renters need time and assistance, and our neighborhoods need protection from unscrupulous investors who are waiting to buy up distressed properties.

“Many of us have seen how the housing crisis has been exacerbated in our area and around the country by the pandemic. Wealthier and white residents, as well as corporate investors, are buying up property in less dense neighborhoods. It is clearly a seller’s market, but who is buying?

“Homeownership is the single largest mechanism by which families create and maintain wealth. Yet, we know that Black and Brown families are much less likely to be homeowners. Moreover, residents and communities of color suffer from an extremely pervasive and persistent racial wealth gap, the result of state and federal housing policies enacted over the entirety of our national history. In their seminal report, Erasing NJ’s Red Lines, researchers at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice identified the contributing factors that have led to this disparity, in New Jersey and around the country.”

In her testimony, Berger called on Congress to include housing initiatives in the infrastructure proposal currently under consideration before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Network joins the National Low Income Housing Coalition and housing advocates across the country in support of the HoUSed campaign which calls for:

•A major expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers to pave the way toward universal rental assistance for all eligible households.

•$70 billion to repair and preserve public housing for current and future generations.

•$45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to build and preserve new homes affordable to America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in our nation’s housing market that can help mitigate and undo systemic and institutional racism, which prevents Black and Brown families from achieving homeownership and safe, affordable rental housing. Housing is infrastructure, and Congress should include in any infrastructure bill the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities.”

To read the testimony in full, visit: https://tinyurl.com/yst3k55t. To watch the hearing in its entirety, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkbgHQqNuQI.

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.

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