More than a hundred nonprofit community development groups and housing advocates in New Jersey have banded together and issued a series of recommendations to make the Garden State more affordable.

They say this will help lower-income families while boosting the Jersey economy.

The coalition is calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to restore $600 million annually into a strategic set of housing and community investments that was siphoned away by previous administrations.

“Taking those resources away from our communities has exacerbated our very severe housing crisis,” said Staci Berger, the president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

“Some of that funding should be used to prevent lead poisoning in our children. Other forms of investment include the affordable housing trust fund, which helps create rental homes.”

She said for the past decade, the Jersey housing market has really been “as if you went to the supermarket and you bought filet mignon and caviar. We need some Hamburger Helper and tuna fish, some things people can afford at a variety of income levels.”

She noted New Jersey is one of the most expensive rental states in the nation, making it hard for working families and millennials who are stuck living in their parents' homes.

“They can’t buy a house because either they’ve got crushing student debt or the housing market simply doesn’t have a house for them to buy.”

She also said in addition to creating more home ownership and rental opportunities, we also need to address the foreclosure crisis.

“Doing all of those things can really help make sure that New Jersey is a place everyone can afford to live, and that helps attract investment from businesses.”

She noted Jersey has a huge number of foreclosed properties that people could afford to move into using some creative financial strategies.

“Maybe they could rent them until they can afford to buy them.”

Berger added, “It is incredibly important that people can afford to live here in order for our economy to thrive. We’ve seen companies move out of New Jersey because their employees cannot afford to work here.”

Berger says she was heartened by the Murphy’s recent comments about the importance of making sure everyone has an affordable place to live.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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