(Trenton, NJ) – Following reports that Trenton seniors were being pushed from their homes by a California based Development Company seeking to turn Trent Center Towers into Section 8 Housing, Assemblymembers Reed Gusciora and Elizabeth Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) called on the Attorney General to investigate the incident, referring to it as a “potential violation of civil rights.”
“We are primarily concerned about long term residents living under conditions which, in effect force them out, for instance, not repairing elevators or performing routine maintenance, showing up at tenant’s meetings, and in essence, taking advantage of seniors that may not have the ability to fight new owners and remain in their homes,” Gusciora explained. “Predatory business practices too frequently cause the degradation of a community. It’s clear that this is a profit-motivated move; if a typical market rate unit in Trenton costs just over $900 a month, the new owners can obtain between $1,200 and $1,500 a unit through Section 8 arrangements with the Federal Government.
"The method being used by the owner to move these seniors out of their homes is extremely concerning," said Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio. In addition to allegations of bullying and lapsed maintenance, Muoio noted that language in the letter sent to residents regarding new Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Rules implies that residents with incomes over certain limits will no longer qualify to live in the building, when those rules actually pertain to qualifying tax credits that benefit the owner. "Many residents receiving that letter could easily assume that they have no choice but to relinquish their units, which is simply not the case," added Muoio. "To mislead our seniors - some of whom have called Trent Center home for many years - in such a way is wrong and cannot be tolerated."
Gusciora also suggested that the area in question would benefit from additional market rate housing, as redevelopment at Trenton’s Transit Center continues, making the City more attractive to commuters from both the Philadelphia and New York markets. “I think it’s really short-sighted investment, to turn market rate housing into Section 8. In order for a city to be properly revitalized, we need to achieve a balance between affordable housing and market rate housing. Over the past few decades, Trenton has accepted more than its fair share in affordable housing monies through Regional Cooperation Agreements (RCA) as outlined in the Mount Laurel Rulings at this time. We need to achieve the balance that a dynamic, economically thriving urban center needs.”