The United Way of Northern New Jersey is asking Morris County governing bodies to protect $22 million in funds earmarked for affordable housing, so that the state doesn't take the money back.
Several towns in the county have a deadline of July 17 to use the money for affordable housing projects, or risk having the money disappear.
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United Way of Northern New Jersey Housing Alliance is urging Morris County governing bodies to protect up to $22 million in local funds earmarked for affordable housing against an impending state seizure.
Towns are facing a July 17 state deadline to commit money from dedicated municipal housing trust funds to local affordable housing projects or the state Department of Community Affairs has warned it will seize the funds. The Alliance believes these funds should be committed in advance of the deadline to address critical shortages in affordable housing locally. In Morris County, 22 towns are holding some $22 million in trust fund monies that are at risk.
“We have an opportunity to put $22 million to work in Morris County to create jobs, improve the local economy and create much-needed affordable housing, said Jodi Miciak, co-chair of the United Way Housing Alliance. “It would be a shame to see the money end up balancing the state budget and not addressing our local needs. We have within our Alliance members who can effectively leverage this money with other state, federal and private funds to get projects off the ground so we can begin to address this housing shortage.”
As the annual Out Of Reach report released today highlights, New Jersey continues to lead the country as one of the top five most expensive states for renters. In Morris County, the report finds that 47 percent of Morris County renters cannot afford a two-bedroom rental at the fair market rate. In addition, United Way research has shown that nearly one-quarter of the population in Morris County is the working poor, unable to afford basic needs such as housing, due to the high cost of living.
Towns that lose their money will still be obligated to provide for affordable housing and they’ll have fewer funds available at their disposal, Miciak added.
To further protect the local funds, the Alliance is proposing legislation that calls for any funds not committed prior to the deadline be preserved in the county of origin for affordable housing projects only. In Morris County, the Alliance is recommending that the funds be administered by the county’s Division of Community Development. This division already disburses federal housing funding to local towns for affordable housing projects and is easily equipped to handle the job.
“If we want a vibrant local economy we should find a way to make it possible for people to live and work here and using $22 million for affordable housing would be a good starting point,” said Diane Driscoll, co-chair of the United Way Housing Alliance.
The Alliance was established in 2004 as a Morris County collaboration of nonprofit, public and private organizations working together to make affordable housing accessible for all families and individuals in our communities. Today, the Alliance consists of 17 active members, all dedicated to addressing the affordable housing shortage.
For more information about the United Way Housing Alliance, contact Jodi Miciak at Jodi.Miciak@UnitedWayNNJ.org or 973.993.1160, x135.
About United Way of Northern New Jersey
United Way of Northern New Jersey is a nonprofit organization working to improve people’s lives and strengthen communities by focusing on Education, Income, and Health. These are the building blocks for a good life – a quality education that leads to a stable job; the tools needed to achieve financial stability; and good health. We lead caring communities to create long-lasting changes that transform people’s lives. Together, united, we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow throughout Morris, North Essex, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED. To learn more, call 973.993-1160 or visit www.UnitedWayNNJ.org.
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