UPDATE: Governor’s Murphy’s budget includes $25M set aside from AHTF for Habitat affiliates!
“Notwithstanding the provisions of any law regulation to the contrary, an amount not less than “25,000,000 from the ‘New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund’ shall be appropriated for grants to New Jersey affiliates of Habitat for Humanity to support the construction or rehabilitation, or both, of dwellings for ownership by very-low, low-, or moderate-income households and to develop a community tool shed program to provide homeowners with resources to recycle, reuse, and share building tools and materials.”
Read more about the proposed budget at: https://pub.njleg.state.nj.us/publications/budget/S2024.pdf
At Habitat, we have been tirelessly working to raise awareness about the pressing housing needs in our community and rallying support for affordable housing initiatives. Our efforts have encompassed various endeavors, including nationwide advocacy campaigns such as Cost of Home and Advancing Black Homeownership, as well as actively engaged with federal legislators at events like Habitat on the Hill in Washington, D.C. We’ve also forged connections with local Habitat affiliates and housing organizations, all with a shared commitment to influencing policies and programs that will bring about meaningful change for the families we partner with and the work we do daily to build homes, community, and hope.
Excitingly, it appears that our collective voice is being heard! Recently, our incredible CEO, Lori Leonard, had the opportunity to testify before the Assembly Appropriations Committee in support of a bill that could have a transformative impact on Habitats throughout the state and their ability to create permanent housing solutions for local families in need.
This bill, part of a package of legislation aimed at expanding access to affordable housing in New Jersey, seeks to allocate $25 million to establish a Nonprofit Housing Construction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program under the purview of the Department of Community Affairs. This program would facilitate the construction of affordable housing by nonprofit organizations. We are grateful to have the strong support of District 7 Senator Troy Singleton and district 15 Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli for this crucial endeavor.
During her testimony, Lori not only highlighted the significant accomplishments of Habitats in New Jersey over the past 35+ years, but also commended elected officials for fully funding the state’s affordable housing trust fund. However, she also emphasized that certain regulations pose obstacles for nonprofits seeking access to these funds, which prompted the need for the creation of this new program.
Another bill within the legislative package focuses on establishing an affordable housing rehabilitation and renovation program under the state’s Housing and Mortgage
Finance Agency. The allocated funds would be directed towards rehabilitating existing homes to be transformed into affordable housing units, as well as covering maintenance costs for units in need of renovation. Notably, the agency will prioritize developers interested in undertaking projects in designated “targeted urban municipalities” as outlined by the state.
Furthermore, the package includes measures to enable nonprofits with expertise in community development and renovations to qualify as contractors under New Jersey’s residential foreclosure prevention program. It also mandates an annual report on the feasibility of converting state-owned properties into affordable housing which would help organizations like ours identify potential projects.
We are thrilled to share that these bills have successfully advanced out of both the Assembly Housing Committee and the Appropriations Committee in late June. This progress marks a significant milestone towards our vision of providing everyone with a safe place to call home. With continued advocacy and support, we are confident in our ability to bring about real change and create brighter futures for individuals and families throughout our state.