Three town hall meetings were held today in New Jersey by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. to address the critical need to protect rental housing programs and prevent homelessness. At the meetings, Pallone met with residents at senior complexes operated by the Long Branch Housing Authority (LBHA) to expose the negative effects budget cuts (sequester) are not only having on New Jersey housing programs, but on the nation’s housing market.

With much of the nation emeraging from a deep economonis crisis, the need for affordable housing across is higher than ever before. Only one in four households currently receive a housing voucher or some other type of federal rental aid. Waiting lists are huge in every community.

According to NJ Rep Pallone, “rent vouchers have virtually disappeared under the sequester.”

Over 1,372 families and individuals are helped through Long Branch Housing Authority (LBHA). Around 784 of those people live through assistance from the Housing Choice Voucher program – deisgned for the elderly, people with disabilities and low-income families. The LBHA has been forced to lower their standards in order to avoid kicking people out on the street. Organizations such as this one have relied heavily on donations and volunteers to maintain stability.

LBHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program aids 2.2 million low-income households to rent livable and affordable households to families who have very low income (many about $12,500). The cancellation of many vouchers due to budget cuts has left many people alone and homeless. Over 440,000 households, along with an extra 1.1 million people have been negatively affected by the federal sequester. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan even announced that 125,000  individuals and families are currently at risk of becoming homeless and losing everything.

“So many New Jerseyans are struggling as a result of the severe shortage of affordable housing across the country.  Now is not the time to cut anti-poverty and anti-homelessness programs like those used at the Long Branch Housing Authority.  In these times we should increase access to affordable housing through these programs, not slash them,” said Pallone.  “That’s why I am so frustrated by Republicans in Congress and members of the Tea Party who refuse to stop the mindless budget cuts.  People need affordable places to live to help put them on track to the middle class, and it is wrong that the GOP slash and burn sequester is putting people out on the street.  Congress must reverse these cuts and work together to come up with a budget that grows the middle class instead of one that takes the roof over people’s heads.”

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