Jacquelyn Suarez


Acting Commissioner, NJ Dept. of Community Affairs Director, Division of Local Government Services

Jacquelyn A. Suárez addressed the members of the Ocean County Mayors’ Association for the first time as Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Acting Commissioner Suárez continues to serve in the role of Director of the Division of Local Government Services.

In her presentation, Acting Commissioner Suárez provided an overview of some of the Department’s seven diverse Divisions and their purview in serving New Jersey’s residents. The Divisions are: Codes & Standards ; Fire Safety ; Housing & Community Resources ; Local Government Services ; Local Planning Services ; Disaster Recovery & Mitigation; and the Office of Information Privacy. In addition, Suárez oversees six affiliate entities including the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency, NJ Redevelopment Authority, and Urban Enterprise Zone Authority.

Suárez stated that DCA’s policies are data-driven, with a focus on stakeholder collaboration to solve the problems within DCA’s purview. Suárez’s mission at DCA is to determine how the Department can inspire creative and technical solutions that better adapt to the everchanging needs and concerns of New Jersey’s communities. It is with that goal that she guides the Department staff.

Suárez discussed on-going and newly introduced housing initiatives including several programs that aim to promote homeownership among low-income residents and aid in the development of affordable housing and housing rehabilitation. Additionally, she highlighted enacted legislation that addresses construction code inspection staff shortages, by allowing individuals and developers to hire a private on-site inspection agency under certain circumstances, so that inspections may occur in the event of municipal inspection delays.

Suárez noted how the DCA Office of Eviction Prevention and the Office of Homelessness Prevention have worked to provide legal services, housing resource navigation, and other assistance to tens of thousands of households. These efforts and others have reduced unsheltered homelessness by 23.4 percent year-over-year in the state based on the DCA Division of Housing & Community Resources, Office of Homelessness Prevention, Update on Homelessness in NJ 2023 report. DCA plans to continue its efforts to combat homelessness, particularly among veterans, with a focus on providing shelter, services, and long-term support to effectively end veteran homelessness in New Jersey.

She noted funding allocations and grants that were awarded to nonprofit organizations, fire departments, and municipalities in Ocean County.

The speech emphasized the importance of shared services agreements and highlighted a few that were accomplished in Ocean County. Shared services agreements work toward alleviating fiscal burdens, improving efficiency in local government operations, and providing an elevated standard of service to residents. Suárez encouraged all local administrators to reach out to the DCA Local Assistance Bureau (LAB) experts, and to consider how their community’s needs may be creatively met by partnering with neighboring communities to reduce costs and enhance services.

As Chairwoman of the Local Finance Board, Suárez covered key Local Finance Board compliance dates and calculations with the mayors and administrators.

Suárez also covered key points from the state’s proposed FY 2025 budget, highlighting investments in education, housing, small business growth, and innovation to stimulate economic growth. Visit the NJ.gov to read Governor Murphy’s FY 2025 proposed budget.

Lastly, Acting Commissioner Suárez opened the floor to questions from the attendees. To learn more, visit the DCA website for detailed information.

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