NEWARK, N.J. — Speaking at a town hall co-sponsored by Newark’s People’s Organization for Progress, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) announced a new and innovative affordable housing agenda that he will pursue as Governor.
New Jersey has a long and difficult history with meeting affordable housing mandates. It is fraught with racism and classism that has seen Wall Street banks “redlining” minority families and municipalities struggling to provide affordable housing.
“For too long, New Jersey shirked its responsibilities to provide cheap and affordable places to live, and now we face a monumental housing crisis,” said Wisniewski. “This is a result of Wall Street banks performing racist and classist practices, combined with our local municipalities ignoring the problem in hopes that someone else would solve the problem.”
The cornerstone of Wisniewski’s plan calls for the creation of statewide Community Land Trust, modeled off successful efforts in Vermont, Boston and Atlanta. The trust will allow homes to be sold to qualified buyers at a price they can afford by selling only the home to the consumer, while the state buys the land — thus significantly lowering home costs.
New Jersey leads the nation in home foreclosures with an estimated 49,000 homes currently on the market. It also has the highest number of vacant and abandoned homes in the foreclosure process in the nation. So-called “zombie homes” — abandoned and unwanted homes stuck in foreclosure limbo — would be prime targets for affordable housing options.
“While we cannot eliminate racism overnight, we must make the system work more equitably for all New Jerseyans,” said Wisniewski. “That is why I am proposing a new, affordable housing plan unlike anything this state has seen before.”
“Far too many working men and women struggle to get by on starvation wages and are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive. Families often have to decide what to do without — food, transportation, healthcare, school tuition, clothing, childcare or housing — in order to survive,” concluded Wisniewski. “New Jersey must address affordable housing, a key to human survival and dignity.”
WISNIEWSKI’S AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN: