Sep-26-06 Governor's Housing and Community Development Conference Highlighted by Corzine's Keynote Address
In the keynote address, Governor Corzine emphasized that New Jersey’s economic success is linked to the success of the state’s housing market and the state’s ability to provide affordable opportunities to the workforce. He went on to discuss the financial relief that would be provided by preserving pre-existing affordable units as opposed to paying a cost of anywhere from two to four times as much to start from scratch.
“ New Jersey ’s economic prosperity is inextricably linked to the availability of mixed-income housing,” said Governor Corzine. “As a part of New Jersey’s first comprehensive strategy for economic growth, my administration has made it a priority to extend access to a wide range of affordable housing options throughout the state.”
The Conference provides more than 1,500 developers, planners, government officials and community organizers the opportunity to exchange information and ideas on housing and smart growth. It’s also another opportunity for housing officials and advocates to discuss the state’s plans to achieve their goal of producing and preserving 100,000 units of affordable housing to low-, moderate- and middle-income families and individuals over the next ten years.
“We are committed to raising the bar to ensure that we reach our goal to create and preserve 100,000 units of affordable housing to middle-, moderate- and low-income New Jersey residents,” said Levin.
Commissioner Levin used her remarks to discuss the many programs available through the Department of Community Affairs and Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) that towns have at their disposal to determine how best to provide affordable housing to current and future residents. She went on to outline new initiatives being offered by the state to address land concerns, increase eligibility and streamline processes while also stressing the need for preservation.
Among the new initiatives announced at the Conference were:
A new CHOICE Pilot program for developing mixed-income, home ownership housing that is available in all of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities. Towns and developers will be able to create their own mix of housing based on their local conditions and local need. Projects can include market rate housing, affordable housing for low and moderate households, subsidized market rate housing and, for the first time ever, subsidized affordable housing for middle income families earning between 80% and 120% of area median income.
The Municipal Loan Acquisition Program, which will provide funds to municipalities to acquire vacant land where affordable housing can be developed. Municipalities with either an approved plan from COAH or the Court can receive an interest free loan to be repaid to DCA from future municipal development and Payment in lieu fees. These funds can be used not only for the acquisition costs, but also for the closing costs. The municipality has the option to develop the housing themselves or select a non-profit or for-profit developer to develop the units.
The expansion of the HMFA Closing Cost/Downpayment program. The program provides a soft loan to help bring home ownership within reach to many more households. Like the CHOICE program, this will now include middle income households earning up to 120% of area median income (and up to 140% in certain urban areas).
The Conference on Housing & Community Development provides participants with the opportunity to attend workshops and training sessions addressing everything from Balanced Housing and the Housing Resource Center (HRC) to the use of DCA’s System for Administering Grants Electronically, or SAGE.
In August of this year, Governor Corzine and DCA released the state’s Housing Policy and Status Report. The document is an outline of the programs the DCA and other state agencies currently have in place to help New Jerseyans find affordable housing; the challenges the state faces in providing affordable housing to everyone who needs it now and in the future; and initiatives being developed to meet those challenges.
The housing status report can be viewed at http://www.nj.gov/dca/housingpolicy06.doc