APN Summit a Tremendous Success!
Nearly 200 people gathered in Monroe, NJ on Dec 4 to talk about "Changing Attitudes, Changing Laws, Changing Lives." The event included moving speeches from Professor Kasturi Dasgupta (see link below) and Shaquana Thompson, as well as the opportunity to hear from two state legislators: Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr., and Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia. Just as importantly, participants built advocacy skills and developed advocacy plans for key anti-poverty efforts in conference workshops. Anyone interested in being part of these efforts is urged to attend the next APN general meeting on January 28 to learn more.
Professor Dasgupta's keynote address:
APN calls for restoration of EITC with Transportation Trust Fund fix
The state appears to be near action on revenue raises to address the chronic underfunding of the Transportation Trust Fund, which almost certainly means increased taxes on gas. The Anti-Poverty Network offered testimony in support of this step, provided the state acts concurrently to restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit. The testimony was offered at the November 6 public hearing of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Commission, and APN Director Serena Rice's testimony can be accessed here. See also coverage of the hearing, including Rice's statements in the Star Ledger.
Progress on Affordable Housing Trust Funds
In September The Anti-Poverty Network, the Housing & Community Development Network, and other anti-poverty partners collected 63 organizational sign-ons for the release of Affordable Housing Trust Fund dollars. We called on DCA Commissioner Constable to convene the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and continue the process of approving municipal plans to rehabilitate and build affordable housing, leveraging trust fund dollars. On October 20 ,COAH met and approved 12 new plans, which will provide homes for many people struggling to afford New Jersey's high housing costs.
In response to an invitation from Commissioner Constable, APN has requested further follow-up regarding the state's plans to review the remaining plans that have been waiting on action for more than a year, and to provide an updated accounting for the on-going collection of municipal trust fund resources.
APN will continue to advocate for the efficient use of available resources to produce homes that New Jerseyans can afford.
(The sign-on letter to Commissioner Constable and the full sign-on list is here.)
NJ One of only three states with higher poverty in 2013.
New Census data from the 2013 American Community Survey gives disturbing evidence that New Jersey is continuing to fall behind in the nation's economic recovery, particularly when it comes to the poorest New Jerseyans. The state's poverty rate in 2013 rose to 11.4%, up from 10.8% in 2012 and 9.4% in 2009 (the beginning of the national recovery). Child poverty also rose more than a full percentage point to 16.4%, with 21,707 more children living in poverty in 2013 compared to the year before.
The broad reach of poverty is making news
A new report from the Poverty Research Institute of Legal Services of New Jersey has drawn attention to the large share of New Jersey's population facing real poverty. By comparing census data to the market-cost budgets published in the 2013 Real Cost of Living study, the report finds that nearly one third of New Jersey residents face deprivation. The report also examines variations between official poverty levels and real poverty for a variety of vulnerable demographic groups, with alarming results.