TRENTON – Senators Shirley K. Turner and Ronald L. Rice welcomed committee approval of their bill to appropriate an additional $15 million to the low-income rental assistance program signed into law over the summer.
“The fact that the federal government doesn’t do more than it does now to get working families off the street and into their own homes is illogical,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “But the Bush Administrations attempts this year to cut the Section 8 program is simply unconscionable. It is clearly up to the State to make sure the funds will always be there to get as many poor families into the homes they need to take the first steps out of poverty. This additional $15 million is another step in the right direction.”
The bill that began the program, S-357, would appropriate $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 would 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 new bill, S-2067, adds an additional $15 million to the program for the coming year. The committee also amended it to include 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.
“The cost of living is a major issue that New Jersey is facing, and when the federal government cut funding for affordable housing, I made it clear that the State needed to help,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex and Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “The State needs to continue to find ways to help those who are struggling to make ends meet due to New Jersey’s expensive housing market.”
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.
“The fact that New Jersey has to put up $25 million dollars to help working families find a respectable place to live when the budget is of such a great concern shows how the failed social and economic policies of the Bush Administration are continuing to hurt New Jersey. If it weren’t for the tireless work of Democrats in Congress, this appropriation would be going towards preventing the waiting list from growing, rather than getting more people off the list. Unfortunately, next year we might not be so lucky,” added Senator Turner.
S-2067 passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee by a vote of 15-0. It now goes to the full Senate for their approval.