TRENTON – The governor’s office said this afternoon that the administration plans on using $200 million of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund balance in the fiscal year 2013 budget to combat homelessness and protect the state’s most vulnerable population.
The statement was in response to comments made during an Assembly committee hearing today that concerned a bill that would establish a program to turn foreclosed properties into affordable housing. A witness at the hearing raised the specter of the administration taking funds dedicated to housing and placing them in the general fund.
Without taking any position on the bill itself, the governor’s office said:
“In order to preserve and expand the state’s commitment to combating homelessness and providing for the housing and other needs of New Jersey’s most vulnerable population, the fiscal year 2013 budget recommends utilizing $200 million of the fund balance, accumulated over the course of nearly four years, in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“Importantly, budget language proposed by the Governor will limit use of these funds to support the provision of housing for households and individuals with low and moderate incomes, including but not limited to rental assistance, shelter assistance, homelessness prevention, residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities, for individuals with mental health needs, and for parolees and other individuals in the criminal justice system, and emergency assistance for individuals and families potentially facing homelessness.”
Gov. Christie press secretary Michael Drewniak said in an email that there are programs that provide for affordable housing needs that will be protected. Among them:
$21 million will be provided for the State Rental Assistance Program.
$4.4 million will be available in the Homelessness Prevention Program that provides assistance to low- and moderate-income tenants and homeowners in imminent danger of eviction or foreclosure.
$2.3 million will be provided in Shelter Assistance for homeless shelters.