Most New Jerseyans approve providing homes for those of low- and moderate-income. The NJ Supreme Court ruled that more than 200,000 housing units must either be built, rehabbed, or converted for low- and moderate-income residents. Some of our communities need to build out sewer, water, and other basic infrastructure required to meet their Affordable Housing mandates. Other communities do not have the transportation infrastructure to support lower-income workers. Affordable housing is a good example of a complex problem that requires a solution tailored to each community rather than a one-size-fits-all answer. I will work with individual communities in our district to find solutions that enable NJ to meet its commitment to affordable housing.
What is Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing is housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income. For New Jersey, rent must be less than 35% of the household’s eligible monthly income. Low-income and moderate-income rental units are defined as follows:
- Low-income rental units: gross household income <= 50% median income
- Moderate-income rental units: gross household income <= 80% median income
Why do we need Affordable Housing?
- NJ state minimum wage is $8.38 which is not sufficient to afford housing in most areas.
- For someone working at minimum wage, here are the number of hours per week needed to afford a 1-bedroom home:
- Hunterdon County: 115 hours per week
- Somerset County: 115 hours per week
- Warren County: 93 hours per week
- Two-thirds of New Jerseyans approve providing homes for those of low- and moderate-income.
How much Affordable Housing do we have?
|County||Population (2016)||Affordable housing units (2015)||Percent|
Why are the Courts Involved?
- In 1975, the NJ Supreme Court ruled on Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. v. Mount Laurel Township (commonly called Mount Laurel I) in which the plaintiffs challenged a Mount Laurel Township zoning ordinance, claiming that it was designed to exclude low- and moderate- income persons from obtaining housing. The case is sometimes called the most significant civil-rights case in the nation since Brown v. Board of Education. The Court ruled that there is some constitutional obligation for municipalities to provide affordable housing
- In 1983, the NJ Supreme Court set in place the “builder’s remedy,” allowing builders approved by the court to construct higher-density developments than otherwise would be permitted by the municipality.
- In the Fair Housing Act of 1985 wealthy towns were permitted to pay neighboring, usually more urban and poorer towns to take their share of affordable housing credits (called Regional Contribution Agreements) but in 2008 a law was passed preventing this practice.
Where are we now?
- Due to a 2017 ruling by the NJ Supreme Court, more than 200,000 housing units must either be built, rehabbed, or converted for low- and moderate-income residents.
- Lower NJ courts regulate affordable housing.
- Towns submit their plans to the courts.
- Developers can bring lawsuits to the courts to build denser housing than otherwise allowed.
- Some towns will need to build out sewer, water, and other basic infrastructure required to meet Affordable Housing requirements.
- Regarding seniors, Section 202 of HUD describes the program that provides affordable housing to elderly individuals with low- and moderate incomes. Ben Carson’s proposed HUD budget reduces 10% from elderly housing.