By Louis Greenwald
I still clearly remember the day my wife and I purchased our first home. It was in Cherry Hill and it was a place where we decided to plant seeds and build our life together. The joy we felt in that moment is something I will never forget.
Every family deserves the same opportunity my wife and I had to purchase their own home.
Yet the dream of homeownership is becoming more and more unattainable for countless New Jerseyans. Our state has an affordability crisis that is making it difficult, if not outright impossible, for many of our residents to purchase their first home. For years, young people saddled with college debt have struggled to become homeowners — especially in states like ours with a high property tax burden.
Homeownership is also a significant issue for people of color, who own homes worth far less than their counterparts. The inability of working families to accumulate generational wealth due to this lack of homeownership has led to the ongoing racial disparities we see in housing today.
Now the housing boom New Jersey is experiencing as a result of lower interest rates, expanded remote work capabilities, and shifting priorities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is pricing even more residents out of the housing market. Real estate prices increased by 12% in 2020 and 15% in 2021. They are estimated to increase by at least 5% this year.
If we cannot provide residents with affordable living options, we risk losing even more of our top talent to neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania, as well as further expanding racial disparities. We cannot afford to leave more New Jerseyans behind.
As such, I intend to prioritize affordability in this session. Key to my affordability agenda is legislation I sponsored to help more residents purchase their first home.
The New Jersey Homebuyer Tax Credit Program aims to counteract the inaccessibility of homeownership due to rising real estate prices and costly property taxes by offering first-time homebuyers a tax credit of up to $15,000 or 5% of the purchase price of their new home.
My goal is to help families build generational wealth by ensuring this credit goes to the residents who truly need it. The program would specifically benefit low-income and middle-class families under the income and property value guidelines specified in the bill.
The house ‘flipping’ trend is yet another factor contributing to residents being pushed out of the market. The bill specifically excludes those investors and focuses on everyday families by requiring homebuyers to use the house as their primary residence for at least three years after purchasing it to be eligible for the tax credit.
We need programs and incentives like this one now more than ever if we want to give more residents the financial means to buy their first home in New Jersey, rather than having to seek housing opportunities outside of the state.
I will work toward advancing this and other legislation to make the dream of owning a home attainable for every resident so that our state can be a place in which our residents want to and can continue to live.
Majority Leader Louis Greenwald is an assemblyman for the 6th Legislative District, representing residents in Camden and Burlington counties.
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