TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Housing Resource Center (HRC) has earned the prestigious 2006 Innovations Award from the nationwide Council of State Governments.  The HRC, which is developed and maintained by the New Jersey Housing Mortgage & Finance Agency (NJHMFA), won the award on July 30.

“I thank the Council of State Governments for recognizing the innovative way the HRC has helped in addressing the state’s need for affordable housing,” said Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees the NJHMFA.  “This award honors the work we have done in developing a highly effective, inter-active, web-based tool to connect New Jersey families searching for housing with the property managers and realtors who have available homes.”

The Council of State Governments is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to foster excellence in state government. The Innovations Awards highlight cutting edge programs that states have developed to address public policy issues.  Winners are selected to represent best practices in four regions of the United States – East, Midwest, South and West. 

“When we created the HRC, our goal was to use internet technology to empower individuals to find the housing they want with the features they need, and to provide them with information ranging from renter rights to homeowner resources — in a comprehensive and customer-friendly way,” said Marge Della Vecchia, executive director of HMFA. “And it's working!”

The HRC — — a free, online housing information clearinghouse, has two major parts:

PART I is a searchable registry of affordable and market rate, for-rent and for-sale housing and housing with accessibility features located throughout NJ.  It’s updated continuously and allows consumers to search for housing based on their income, location desired, or amenities sought.

PART II is an ever changing, always improving collection of housing related links for consumers, agencies and property owners. 

Within only one year of its launch, the HRC has experienced 2 million searches for housing.  The program has also won two other awards: “Best Application Serving the Public,” given by Government Technology Magazine at the New Jersey Digital Government Summit; and the Special Merit Award, given by Quality New Jersey.