TRENTON – Senators Shirley K. Turner and Ronald L. Rice welcomed the Governor’s signature today of their legislation to appropriate an additional $15 million to bolster low-income rental assistance programs that were devastated by Bush budget cuts.
“We have been working for over a year to put into place the appropriate level of funding for the State’s low-income housing program,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Today the Governor has joined with both houses of the Legislature in standing by our neediest working families in their efforts to afford decent housing. We are picking up the slack for where the Bush Administration has failed our families.”
Last summer, legislation was signed into law that appropriated $10 million for the establishment of a State rental assistance program for low income individuals or households, similar to the federal Section 8 program. The program will be administered by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). These rental assistance grants will go to households that are eligible for Section 8 vouchers but do not receive them due to a lack of federal funds. Under the bill, assistance to an individual or household under the State program would be terminated upon the award of federal Section 8 rental assistance to that same individual or household.
The legislation signed today, S-2067, adds an additional $15 million to the program for the coming year. The new law also includes a provision that all non-senior, non-disabled recipients of the grants would be required to take advantage of workforce training available through their local One-Stop Career Counseling Center.
“Every person living in New Jersey knows that the cost to rent even the most basic of apartments is astronomical,” said Senator Rice D-Essex and Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “Far too many families, especially in our urban areas, cannot afford such prices even when they bring in income from two or more full time jobs. Today we are able to help more of these families get off of the Section 8 waiting lists and into apartments so that they can realize the benefits of having a place to call ‘home’.”
Senator Rice also noted that as many as 100,000 New Jersey residents are on the Section 8 waiting list and are of every race and creed and can be found in towns throughout New Jersey. The $25 million will help close to 2,000 people get off the waiting list and into a safe, clean apartment.
“As the cost of living in New Jersey increases, so will the waiting list for those who need housing assistance. New Jersey really couldn’t afford the cuts in housing assistance programs made by the federal government, but everyone in Trenton realized how important housing vouchers are to our families and communities and stepped up in the time of need. These additional funds are necessary in order to provide assistance to those who are eligible for Section 8 vouchers but did not receive them due to federal budget cuts,” said Senator Rice.
“For so many New Jersey families, the first step to realizing the American dream is finding a permanent home they can afford,” Senator Turner. “For many of our poor families, it is difficult to find and keep a quality job, concentrate on schoolwork and maintain their personal health without a safe and permanent home. The myriad of ways the State supports its residents are vastly more effective when the recipient has a home of their own.”