Today, voters in New Jersey will cast ballots for the candidate they deem worthy to move on in the race to become the next Governor of New Jersey. A problem that hasn’t received as much attention as some might hope is the lack of affordable homes in the Garden State. Declining incomes, rising housing costs, and the high rate of foreclosures is symptomatic of the fact that the state has failed to build housing that will attract owners and renters of all ages and incomes.
A number of candidates have explicitly stated their vision and plan for affordable homes in the State. These proposed strategies vary from the funding of community land trusts (Assemblyman John Wisniewski), to support for developer tax credits (Jim Johnson and State Senator Lesniak) , as well as claiming funds set for New Jersey from mortgage claim settlements (Phil Murphy). Neither Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli nor Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno has stated a clear plan to create and fund affordable housing. Instead they both contend that the quota process set by New Jersey’s Council on Affordable housing (COAH) must be overhauled. Assemblyman Wisniewski and Senator Lesniak, along with green party candidate Seth Kaper-Dale, have stated their support for the Housing and Community Development Network’s Build a Thriving New Jersey campaign, which Regional Plan Association also supports.
The state needs at least 200,000 affordable new homes to catch up to the market demand that has developed over the past 8 years. The need for another 250,000 is anticipated over the next 15 years.
The production of affordable homes will yield real relief to residents who are rent burdened. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) states that for every dollar they spend, $2.15 is returned to the economy. Furthermore, positive impacts from increased tax revenue will enable New Jersey to fund improvements to municipal and transit infrastructure, support much needed community programs and increase life quality for all.
It is crucial for the candidates who make it through to general election on November 7th to take a firm position on how to create more affordable homes. The candidates’ plans for addressing affordability have the power not only to shape the results of the election but also to determine who can afford to live in New Jersey for decades to come.
Photo: Blake Bolinger/Flickr