Going to Trenton to fight poverty with faith


TRENTON — Some 70 people of various faiths and housing interests converged on the Statehouse Nov. 28 to present petitions to Gov. Chris Christie and legislators outlining their concerns with affordable housing and the jobless situation in the state.

“We handed over 60 signed petitions to the governor and made a commitment to rally others in North and Central Jersey,” said Jacob Toporek, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations. “We’re still waiting to hear from the governor and talk to him about what must be accomplished.”

The group met in a committee room in the Statehouse Annex from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The meeting was part of A Call to Action: Fighting Poverty with Faith NJ and included Catholic Charities throughout the state. Also included in the meeting were Protestant, Hindu and Moslem leaders who gave their perspectives on affordable housing in New Jersey.

The governor, legislators, and the financial community were asked to take on some of the responsibility to find solutions to the housing and jobless problems.

“There are about 1 million people in the state who are either homeless or are having a difficult time keeping their homes,” Toporek noted, “and in the midst of one of the wealthiest states in America.” He pointed out Hurricane Sandy exasperated the situation.

Toporek noted that Fighting Poverty with Faith “is really a national program where we ask state and local communities to participate,” adding that he is still waiting to hear from the governor so they can talk about what can be done.

“As people of faith we cannot ignore those in need,” said Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, including “children who are hungry, the sick who have no medical care, “and people who are jobless or homeless.”