New Jersey's DCA A Community Affair

One of the largest and most well connected branches of New Jersey's state government is also perhaps one of the least recognized. Based in Trenton, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is made up of a host of individual divisions, each responsible for its own array of community outreach, support, enforcement, and betterment programs.

According to the DCA's mission statement, the department's raison d'etre is "to provide administrative guidance, financial support, and technical assistance to local governments, community development organizations, businesses and individuals with the purpose of improving the quality of life for the citizens of New Jersey."

Divisions and Programs

The DCA has oversight over a dizzying array of issues involving local government, housing, recreation, advocacy and accessibility for people with disabilities, women's issues, fire safety, building codes, historic preservation, smart growth, redevelopment, and issues of concern to the state's minority populations. To tackle such a broad spectrum of responsibilities, the DCA is sub-divided into 8 primary divisions, each with its own area of focus.

The Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development (CHPRD) promotes the involvement of members of the Hispanic community in the development of policy through its offerings of programs and services. CHPRD funds programs developed by private and public entities throughout New Jersey to further empower the Latino community, both socially and economically. Some of the programs developed and managed by CHPRD include grants programs for Hispanic organizations, technical assistance and training programs, the Hispanic Resource Library/Data Bank, and a Research and Advocacy office, just to mention a few.

The Division of Codes and Standards works in conjunction with the state's municipalities to establish and enforce all building, structure and equipment codes and standards to promote and ensure a safe work environment and the safety of any surrounding residents. Under the auspices of the Division are such varied programs such as the Resident Site Improvement Standards and Amusement Ride Safety Programs, the Building Code Assistance Unit, the Construction Code Officials Licensing and Elevator Safety Programs, among others.