NJ veterans need bigger break on ‘objectionable’ property tax | Opinion

By Johnathan T. Gilmore

My husband and I live in Voorhees Township, Camden County. We bought our home with a loan from Veterans Affairs. We bought smart. We bought a house that one of us could afford if the other got sick or got kicked out.

We bought before the pandemic caused house prices to skyrocket. We bought with the intention of living here for years, and possibly raising children. We love the neighborhood, the neighbors and the schools.

However, we don’t like half of our monthly payment on our home going to property taxes.

It is reprehensible to know that we could pay for this house in half the time without these insane taxes.

According to state veterans data from the Housing Assistance Council, a nonprofit group that advocates for affordable housing, “housing affordability is the biggest housing issue among veterans,” in the United States. New Jersey. “About 70,503 New Jersey veterans live in homes with one or more major quality, overcrowding, or cost issues.”

However, given that over 78% of the state’s veterans own their own homes, why isn’t their housing more affordable?

Does the state government have a solution to this problem? Is it to build more affordable housing for veterans? Maybe, but I think a quick and easy solution would be to reduce the property tax rate on the homes of veterans, based on their disability rates.

Currently, only veterans who are “100% and totally disabled” receive full relief from their local property taxes. And, until a year ago, only totally disabled veterans who served in wartime were eligible for the 100 percent exemption, or a smaller annual deduction of $ 250 for veterans who did not. does not require proof of disability.

For those like me – who are disabled, but not 100% – the relief is slim to none. But, we also suffer.

Due to my disability, I quit my job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I had already bought a house; however, now we were relying on my husband’s income. Although I found a job seven months after leaving my old job, we had to refinance our house and take out a larger loan in order to get a new home that we needed. Our fence, which is dilapidated, cannot be fixed until we save the money. It could take years.

There are other necessary fixes that we cannot take care of due to our monthly mortgage. The median home value of a veteran in New Jersey is lower than the overall median home value in the state. Nationally, we suffer from higher rates of homelessness, disability and economic instability. And yet, we all want to live a life free from these specific, yet negative stereotypes.

Give veterans with disabilities the relief they deserve. We veterans sacrificed our time, our youth, and in many cases our lives, so that you could live in a free country. Our community’s tax burden is offensive.

Johnathan T. Gilmore is a United States Marine Veteran who deployed to Afghanistan. He holds a communications degree from Cornell University.

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