NJ Politics Digest: Should State Buy Foreclosed Homes to Provide Affordable Housing?


The bill calls for the state to buy foreclosed houses from banks and then sell or lease them to municipalities, developers or community development corporations for use as affordable housing.
The bill calls for the state to buy foreclosed houses from banks and then sell or lease them to municipalities, developers or community development corporations for use as affordable housing. David McNew/Getty Images

An idea to have the cash-strapped state buy up homes in foreclosure to help address affordable housing issues in New Jersey is getting renewed attention now that Gov. Phil Murphy is in office.

Former Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed the idea three times, once explaining in a veto message he was “rejecting the attempt to simply add millions of dollars to the budget without identifying offsetting reductions,” according to a report in NJSpotlight.

But Murphy, who has voiced his support for increasing access to affordable housing, might be more willing to embrace the idea, the report said.

It’s unclear just how much such a program would cost the state, which is already struggling to meet its pension obligations and carries one of the highest tax burdens in the nation.

Previous analysis of the plan said it would have an indeterminate cost to the state, according to the report. The current measures say that funding for the program would come from the state and municipal affordable-housing trust funds, as well as money from the state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

The bill calls for the state to buy foreclosed houses from banks and then sell or lease them to municipalities, developers or community development corporations for use as affordable housing. Towns where the house is located would get first choice whether or not to use the house the report said.

Supporters say the measure is needed to help deal with the dual problems of foreclosures in the state and the lack of affordable housing, according to NJSpotlight.

The Senate Economic Growth Committee on Monday voted 4-0 to release the plan, which will next be reviewed by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Quote of the Day: “A lot of people are being given a tax burden that they weren’t paying before.” — New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, on how the Republican tax plan’s limit on deductions for state and local taxes is impacting middle-class New Jersey residents

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