Advocacy Tool Kit: County Homelessness Trust Funds
In 2009, with substantial bi-partisan support, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law authorizing counties to impose a surcharge of $3.00 for each document recorded by the County Clerk, to be deposited into a Homelessness Trust Fund. The Trust Funds are to be used to assist families and individuals who are homeless or to prevent homelessness. A new law now allows a County to approve a surcharge of five dollars for each document recorded, two dollars of which must be used to support Code Blue. For the twelve counties that have established Trust Funds (Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic, Somerset and Union), they have proven to be a flexible and cost-effective resource. On average, counties have raised over $100,000 annually for their funds, with some raising over $300,000.
The Trust Funds have provided short-term rental assistance, eviction prevention services, case management and the development of new affordable housing. Trust Fund directors and elected officials from both sides of the political spectrum overwhelmingly support them, with no reported complaints having been received from taxpayers about the $3.00 - $5.00 document fee.
In this time of limited resources, the Coalition hopes that more NJ counties will adopt Trust Funds. We designed this Toolkit to assist advocates in their efforts to help create Trust Funds in the nine counties that do not have them. Coalition staff is available to assist advocates in counties that would like more information about this valuable tool.