Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Jim Kennedy, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle establishing a "Tiny Home Pilot Program" was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on Thursday.
The bill (A-3072) creates a pilot program to assist low to moderate income families as well as New Jersey's homeless population with acquiring housing through the construction of small, affordable homes.
"This program provides an inexpensive, efficient way to house our homeless community along with New Jersey residents in need of affordable housing," said Quijano (D-Union). "The number of people that fall into these categories in our state is currently unreasonably high. Tiny homes provide for a reasonable alternative solution for the families and communities in New Jersey."
Municipalities in three regions of the state, as chosen by the Executive Director of the New Jersey and Mortgage Finance Agency in the Department of Community Affairs, will be eligible to participate in this program. In addition, the executive director must also manage the pilot program to award grants to qualified municipalities for the construction of housing developments. Towns participating in this program will also receive two credits toward the fulfillment of its fair share housing obligation for each tiny home unit constructed there.
The homes built for this program will consist of no greater than 300 square feet of interior floor space.
"Simply put, there is an affordable housing shortage in our state," said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Tiny homes provide for an additional resource for those in need of affordable housing. This bill also aims at helping low-income families with other support such as rental assistance programs."
This bill also suggests the Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency seek funding from the federal government, along with other sources, to implement the pilot program. With this funding, the executive director would distribute $1.65 million during each of the three years the pilot program is enacted to both qualified applicants for housing as well as the construction of tiny homes.
"Various groups of New Jersey residents are struggling to make ends meet: veterans, millennials, and newly-married couples looking to settle down and start a family," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This pilot program will allow us to get a better idea of how we can help to make housing more obtainable and, most importantly, more affordable in New Jersey."