February 21, 2024

Councilwoman Responds to Letter Regarding PU’s Voluntary Contribution

To the Editor:

I write in response to the recent letter to the editor by Maria Juega about Princeton University’s voluntary contribution to the community and the municipality [“Renters Should Be Included in PU Plan for Tax Relief Payments,” Mailbox, February 14].

When my colleagues and I began our discussions with University representatives, a priority in those conversations was addressing affordability and social equity, goals shared by both town and gown. Together, we explored a variety of possibilities, which ultimately led to an unprecedented increase in University support for a broad range of meaningful services that aid the most vulnerable in our community. 

We are aware that many homeowners, especially elderly homeowners, are “house poor,” and that property tax relief could enable people to stay in their homes who might otherwise be compelled to leave. Making sure that such homeowners apply for and receive ANCHOR rebates and the additional monies from the University is a very high priority. Unfortunately, most renters in affordable housing do not qualify for the ANCHOR rental rebate, but ensuring that those renters who do qualify get the rebate is crucially important. We are also all keenly aware that the ANCHOR program does not include many Princetonians who, as Ms. Juega writes, “don’t apply for ANCHOR because they don’t have to file a tax return, and therefore may not have been notified that they qualify. Others lack access to a computer, or don’t know how to get and complete the application forms.”

That is why, in addition to support for ANCHOR program qualified homeowners who earned up to $150,000 (not $200,000 as Ms. Juega states), the voluntary contribution prioritizes the needs of renters in a variety of critical ways. These include funding to the municipality to support emergency housing, and funding to the local nonprofit Housing Initiatives of Princeton to support a rental assistance program for residents and families facing housing insecurity. Understanding the crucial role of higher education for our underserved residents, college scholarships for Princeton High School graduates will be provided through the local nonprofit 101:Fund. Substantial funding for public transit will increase access to jobs and services for residents without a car. All of these contributions are designed to assist lower- and middle-income residents in Princeton.

Additionally, we on Princeton Council are committed to ensuring that every qualified renter and homeowner in Princeton is aware of and can apply for the state ANCHOR rebate. Our new Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing, Human Services, and Racial, Social and Economic Equity will assist us in these efforts, in addition to the outreach already in place through our Human Services staff, the Center for Modern Aging Princeton, and Mercer County.

Eve Niedergang
Princeton Councilwoman
Witherspoon Street