Legislation to turn foreclosed homes into affordable housing has set off an angry reaction in New Jersey, where one conservative group has launched a campaign to kill it.
According to njspotlight.com
, Americans for Prosperity has begun an advertising campaign warning that legislation pushed by Democratic lawmakers could move “drug addicts, ex-cons, sex offenders, and homeless people” into neighborhoods.
“A lot of people don’t even know this is happening, or the significant negative impacts this bill will have on our neighborhoods,” Steve Lonegan, a gubernatorial candidate and state director of Americans for Prosperity, told njspotlight. “Any local official would have to be crazy to support this.”
The plan, however, does have some powerful supporters who don’t always end up on the same side of an issue.
They include the state League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Builders Association, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Bankers Association.
The supporters say the criticisms reflect a misunderstanding of the bill, which would establish a temporary agency to buy foreclosed houses and make them available to local governments, nonprofit groups, or private investors as low and moderate-income housing.
Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the initiative is “a way to support property values and reduce crime by getting people into vacant homes, provide municipal tax revenues, while stabilizing the housing market.”
But Lonegan said the plan amounts to expanding government at taxpayer expense to help private interests.
“Every special interest in the state with something to gain is lined up behind this,” he said. “But thank God the bankers association, the builders association, the realtors association, don’t run the State of New Jersey.”
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