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Lesniak-Bateman Introduce Resolution Calling On Congress To Make Changes To Federal Law To Ensure Access To Affordable Housing

Senator Ray Lesniak, D-Union, speaks reporters about his plan to look into leasing NJ's toll roads to reduce state debt

Increased Federal Investment in Affordable Housing Will Mean New Homes, Jobs in the Garden State

TRENTON – Noting a national obligation to ensure affordable housing opportunities for all people, Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Kip Bateman today introduced a New Jersey State Senate concurrent resolution calling on Congress to make changes to federal affordable housing laws to guarantee access to affordable housing for more of New Jersey’s residents, encourage building new homes and create jobs in New Jersey.

“Right now, federal affordable housing programs are not sufficient to meet the need for new homes in the State of New Jersey and around the nation,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “We’re in the midst of a national economic crisis, in which the value of our hard-earned dollars is down, and the cost of living is through the roof. We need federal programs that identify the needs of the people of this country, and provide adequate support to states seeking to act in good faith to ensure housing opportunities for all their residents.”

“It’s a critical time for our nation,” said Senator Bateman, R-Somerset and Morris. “The federal government simply must find a way to ensure that homelessness doesn’t soar during this period of economic turmoil. The changes in federal law requested by Senator Lesniak and I will help keep hardworking people in New Jersey in decent housing and stimulate the economy.”

The resolution would urge Congress to make various changes to federally-supported affordable housing programs, in order to increase the benefit and availability of affordable housing in New Jersey and the nation at large. The resolution calls on Congress to increase the funding and available quantity of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, which are used to subsidize rental costs for low-income tenants. The resolution also encourages Congress to require the Department of the Treasury to expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, to apply to a wider variety of housing construction projects. And the resolution asks Congress to increase funding for the Community Development Block Grant Program, to provide funding to assist communities in a wide variety of development and redevelopment projects.

“Increasing these programs would not only ensure access to affordable housing, but would create jobs in the State,” said Senator Lesniak. “Federal investment in the development or redevelopment of our communities, particularly at a time when we’re concerned with joblessness and unemployment, would be a welcome shot in the arm in New Jersey. By increasing the federal investment in affordable housing, we can put people to work while we build the homes people need in the Garden State.”

“Tax credits are a proven way to stimulate construction activity and make housing more affordable without more spending,” said Senator Bateman. “In a recession, the promise of tax credits can spur economic activity without putting immediate demands on an already strained federal treasury.”

Finally, the bill would urge Congress to include the funding of affordable housing construction as a component of any state infrastructure aid which may be included in the federal economic stimulus legislation. The Legislators added that direct government investment in the construction of affordable housing is essential, not only to meet housing needs, but also to put State residents to work.

“As much as increases in existing federal affordable housing programs would help the State, a direct government investment in housing construction is the single biggest tool to cut down on homelessness and joblessness in New Jersey,” said Senator Lesniak. “As we build roadways, schools, and various other public infrastructure needs, we need to include affordable housing in any public construction plans. Through a direct investment in affordable housing construction, we can build the homes people need, and create the jobs people need, to get through the worst of our current economic crisis.”

“Bipartisan cooperation is vital as we work to turn our economy around,” said Senator Bateman. “This resolution is about jobs, homes and the protection of our communities. I urge federal lawmakers to heed our plea and respond with a housing program that our state needs and deserves.”

The resolution will be referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

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