TRENTON – Housing advocates continue to hold out hope that a revived “Build Back Better” bill can make it through Congress and that if it’s slimmed down, funding for rental assistance, public housing repairs and new affordable homes aren’t dropped from the reconciliation bill.

Democratic members of Congress and the state Legislature joined the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey Wednesday for the launch of a ‘HouseNJ’ campaign that will advocate for the BBB’s housing money not to get cut out.

Under the plan passed by the House, New Jersey would receive 21,000 new rental vouchers, according to the group. The state would also receive $545.3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund, up from $24.3 million in 2021, enough to fund 5,000 new homes affordable to households at extremely low incomes.

“It would represent the largest investment in housing infrastructure and affordability certainly in my lifetime and probably in the history of our nation,” said Staci Berger, the HCDNJ’s president and chief executive officer.

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Ewing, said it’s disappointing that Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin – whom she referred to as “a certain Democrat from West Virginia" – stalled the Build Back Better bill passed by the House.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m not giving up,” Watson Coleman said. “Progressives in Congress haven’t given up hope.”

“These are all important funding priorities across the country, and we must continue to support them even if a Build Back Better Act does not become law,” said U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-Newark.

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State lawmakers said the Legislature would take up a resolution urging Congress to include the housing proposals in a budget reconciliation bill.

The HouseNJ campaign will also advocate for the state to allocate $975 million of its federal COVID recovery funds for housing purposes such as expansions of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program and rental assistance.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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