By: Helena Perray, Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — On Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation approving the transfer of $20 million to the Special Needs Housing Trust Fund (SNHTF).
Signed into law in 2005, the SNHTF has funded numerous housing projects and accommodations for New Jersey residents living with special needs. According to the state’s SNHTF fact sheet, these residents include “individuals with mental illness, physical or developmental disabilities, victims of domestic violence, ex-offenders and youth offenders, youth aging out of foster care,” among others.
“There is an imperative to develop more good, quality affordable housing for people with disabilities – housing that meets the needs and preferences of New Jersey’s large and diverse disability community,” Paul S. Aronsohn, state Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families, said in a release. “This legislation recognizes that imperative and addresses it in a meaningful way.”
The signing of this bill will provide the state’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency with the funds needed to begin planning for the construction of more inclusive and affordable homes for the special needs population.
“The Special Needs Housing Trust Fund has long-supported communities in providing adequate housing options for residents with special needs,” Assemblymembers Benjie Wimberly, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Cleopatra Tucker, said in a joint statement. “Housing accommodations can be a challenge for residents with disabilities, whether it is providing special ramps or appliances they require to perform simple daily tasks. With the signing of this legislation, we ensure the trust fund is able to continue its work for years to come with a dedicated funding source.”
Because the SNHTF has received a noticeably lower amount of money over the last several years, an approved $20 million in funding will be transferred over from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTR). According to a press release, an increase in real estate sales – leading to the AHTR’s growth – has made the transfer possible between the two funds.
The bill will provide further support to the state’s special needs community, allowing those with disabilities to receive the resources they need for their day-to-day life.
“It is particularly fitting that June marks the 22nd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling affirming the rights of people with disabilities to live in the community that the Governor signed this bill today,” Diane Riley, executive director of the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey said in a release. “This law puts funding aside that will create opportunities to build more homes in every community for the thousands of people who struggle with barriers but can thrive with the supports they need.”
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.