New Jersey skyline. Photo credit: Manisha Raghunath on Unsplash
New Jersey skyline. Photo credit: Manisha Raghunath on Unsplash

New Jersey to address state’s housing affordability with two new programs


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New Jersey has recently passed two pieces of legislation that will help people purchase their first home and fund the preservation of affordable/public housing. 

Bill S3780/A5415 created a First-Generation Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance program, which expands on and codifies the down payment program from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA). 

The first time homebuyer program from NJHMFA provides up to $15,000 in an interest-free, five-year forgivable second loan to qualified homebuyers. To qualify, homebuyers need to not have owned a home in the past three years and plan to use the home as a primary residence in any New Jersey county. 

“So many Black and Brown families are faced with barrier after barrier when trying to purchase a home. This legislation will be a tool to assist Black and Brown communities across the state in buying a home and building generational wealth,” Rev. Eric Dobson, Deputy Director of Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC), explained in a press release. 

Dobson serves as the co-chair of New Jersey’s Wealth Disparities Task Force housing sub-committee. The First-Generation program was one of the committee’s key recommendations. FSHC and its allies advocated for both pieces of legislation for years. 

“New Jersey’s program will match our nation’s largest investment in First-Generation Homebuyers which will be a key tool to start to address the state’s massive racial wealth gap,” added Ashley J. Lee, Esq., Staff Attorney for FSHC. 

The Urban Preservation Program was also created, this time under Bill 3991, and will receive $80 million in funding that was allocated from the $275 million housing investment from the American Rescue Plan funds. 

The money will be used to fund the preservation of public housing and other affordable housing in urban areas.  

“In our approach to expanding access to affordable housing, we have to consider the current impact of the affordability crisis and lack of income growth for working families,” said Senator Brian Stack.

He added that the program “is an investment that will preserve and bolster the supply of affordable housing for low and moderate income families within our urban communities.” 

Bill S 4026/A5595 was also passed in conjunction with the others and will give NJHMFA more tools to intervene in foreclosures so that people can stay in their homes. These tools will also allow the agency to rehabilitate and resell vacant homes. These efforts will be supported by a $15 million investment from the American Rescue Plan. 

“Housing is a human right,” said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez. 

“Access to safe, affordable housing is life changing for struggling families. In too many households, the majority of a family’s monthly income goes towards housing costs, leaving little to cover bills, food, health care, and other essentials. By expanding existing programs and supporting the redevelopment of residential properties, we are putting affordable housing in reach for New Jerseyans,” she continued.

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