MARE journal.com

Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal — January 13 - 26, 2012 — 11


By Jean Maddalon, New Jersey Apartment Association Section 8 red tape jeopardizes housing options for many in New Jersey


ew Jersey is a state part i cular ly chal - lenged by over-regu-

sive state to professionally build, own and manage rental housing. While the Housing Choice Voucher Program will never fix that problem, it does play an important role in help- ing working families make ends-meet and find a place they can call ‘home.’ Section 8 is broken, but not beyond repair. We need to streamline the system and accelerate the process so it fulfills its objec- tives. Jean Maddalon is execu- tive director of New Jersey Apartment Association. ■

actual move-in date can be de- layed for several days – or even weeks – waiting for the local

compete for available apart- ments with other residents who can apply on-line and


lation, but one of the most difficult issues facing our members stems from the ennui around the Federal Section 8 Program, which promises to become more serious the lon- ger it goes unresolved. We have been long advocat- ing for reforms to the Federal Rental Assistance Program, whose wasteful practices ur- gently require correction. Rental housing continues to be the most affordable housing option for more than one mil- lion New Jersey families, yet there are many who struggle to afford even a modest apart- ment without financial sub- sidy. For decades both the White House and Congress took their responsibility to fully-fund HUD and the Sec- tion 8 program seriously – no matter which political party was in control. Today, political wrangling in Washington has led to short-changing voucher programs and creating doubt over the programs continued funding and future rules. In short, the system, and the covenant between the Federal government and working fami- lies, has been broken. Unlike “entitlement” spend- ing, funding for Section 8 program fluctuates from year- to-year and needs continued appropriations. The number – and value – of vouchers the State and local public hous- ing authorities receive varies greatly. This lack of consis- tency and any solid financial backing puts families – and professional rental housing providers – in a catch-22. With no real guarantee, many worry that, come lease renewal, a family utilizing a voucher this year may lose it next year. If those in need lose the government voucher, who will help them make ends-meet? At the local level, bureau- cratic inspection delays put an unnecessary burden on fami- lies as well. With a voucher in-hand and the knowledge of how much rent that voucher will pay, a family begins the process of looking for housing they can afford, just like any other family. Once they select an apartment they like, and are approved to move-in, their

For an individual apartment that has recently passed the mandatory State inspection, or has been subject to a local CO inspection at turnover, delay- ing a family from moving into their new home so the local housing authority can come out for a third inspection is redundant, unnecessary and counterproductive. Study after study shows that New Jersey is an expensive place to live – and an expen-

Section 8 is broken, but not beyond repair. We need to streamline the system and accelerate the process so it fulfills its objectives.

housing authority to make a special trip to the property and conduct a HUD-specific inspection. As families seeking to utilize Section 8 vouchers

move in the next day, voucher holders who must contend with federal bureaucratic delays often find it difficult to compete for the most coveted


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