Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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Vaccine Doses: 11,535,778
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,804,009
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
More than 8,000 people are homeless in New Jersey, according to new data released by Monarch Housing Associates. This year’s survey, conducted over a two-week period in January, is likely an undercount given the COVID-19 pandemic: counties sent fewer volunteers to search for people, organizers were unable to hold community events, and shelters took in fewer people to allow for social distancing. The big takeaway from the report: there are stark racial disparities in housing. Approximately half of those facing housing instability are Black, despite Black people making up only 13 percent of the state’s population. “These high racial disparities in the numbers show it’s a combination of race, housing segregation, economics, education,” said Taiisa Kelly, CEO of Monarch Housing Associates. “The impact of structural racism drives these numbers we’re seeing, not poverty alone.” [NorthJersey.com / Ashley Balcerzak]
Now for some good housing news: the Build Back Better economic recovery bill advancing through Congress would make major investments in housing, funding up to 750,000 housing vouchers over the next five years. The vouchers alone would assist an estimated 1.7 million people across the country once fully phased in, including more than 660,000 children. According to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the recovery bill’s voucher expansion would do more than any other measure to reduce homelessness and racial disparities in housing. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Will Fischer and Erik Gartland]
Earlier this week, the Build Back Better recovery plan was endorsed by 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists, including Princeton University’s Sir Angus Deaton. In an open letter, the economists not only endorsed the $3.5 trillion in spending to help stimulate the economy, but also the $2.9 trillion increase in taxes to pay for the program. “While we all have different views on the particulars of various economic policies, we believe that key components of this broader agenda are critical—including tax reforms that make our tax system more equitable,” the economists wrote. [Fortune / Nicole Goodkind]
On the campaign trail, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciatarelli has proposed big cuts to state spending — in the ballpark of $9 to $11 billion. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson told NorthJersey.com, reverting to Christie-era spending would widen racial disparities and hamper the state’s recovery from the pandemic. “We already know that when state government is starved, it comes at a real cost to all residents,” Reynerston said. “When people had trouble getting their unemployment checks or stood in long lines at Motor Vehicles, they were seeing the result of a decade’s worth of budget cuts to state agencies.” [NorthJersey.com / Dustin Racioppi]
Last week, Governor Murphy named 23 members to a new Wealth Disparity Task Force to develop strategies to build a more inclusive economy. The task force includes senior members of the Murphy administration, including Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, state Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride, Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo, among others. The task force also includes some familiar faces, including NJPP President Brandon McKoy, Fair Share Housing Network Deputy Director Rev. Eric Dobson, National Medical Fellowships President Michellene Davis, and Cuqui Rivera of the Latino Action Network! [New Jersey Globe / David Wildstein]
Big shout out to NJPP President Brandon McKoy for being named to the 2021 ROI Influencers: People of Color list! From the write-up: “Too many think tanks — on both sides of the political spectrum — use their platform simply to push their partisan view. McKoy and New Jersey Policy Perspective are different.” [ROI-NJ / Influencers: People of Color]
Pets of NJPP
The NJPP extended family lost another furry friend this month. Pip, the smart and talkative cat of Susan Druckenbrod, was a rugged adventurer who passed away over Labor Day weekend. The Druckenbrod family loved him hard and he loved them hard back. So sorry for your loss, Susan!
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