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Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's not called the "Fair" Housing Act for nothing

Municipalities rallying against new affordable housing guidelines put out by the state are complaining that the new rules violate portions of the Fair Housing Act that dictate that the provision of affordable housing shall not require a municipality to expend tax revenues on affordable housing.

The act reads, “Nothing in P.L.1985, c.222 shall require a municipality to raise or expend municipal revenues in order to provide low and moderate income housing.”

Public officials are saying that the new regulations, which basically double affordable housing obligations for towns, violate this clause, because the new rules do not provide revenue streams required to build affordable housing, which requires roughly $100,000 to $150,000 in subsidies per unit, depending on the housing type.

But the use of Regional Contribution Agreements – recently outlawed through some good legislation – allowed many of these same municipalities now running scared over actually having to build their fair share of affordable housing to send off large chunks of their own obligations for somewhere around $30,000 a piece.

That, by their own admission, only covered around 20 percent of the actual cost of subsidizing the units for the urban municipalities that usually agreed to take on the housing. Even worse, that $30,000 did not even remotely cover the service and societal costs incurred when the state’s cash-strapped urban municipalities piled in New Jersey’s poor, in places without jobs or good education opportunities.

That arrangement certainly violated the spirit of the Fair Housing Act, but now that RCAs are gone and these towns face actually fulfilling their affordable housing obligations, lawsuits are being filed and outcry is being heard.

Thankfully paradigm has changed in New Jersey, barring any unexpected success in the courts through recently filed lawsuits against the rules. No longer will rich municipalities be able to exclude the working classes from living within their borders, because the new rules plus the recent legislation signal the end of their ability to force those same people to live in places devoid of good employment and good education.

Those same places – Trenton, Camden, Newark, and elsewhere – now have a better chance to improve, without lining up to the cash trough and eating up all the state’s poor and low-income housing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New Jersey League of Municipalities ought to be ashamed of themselves and all that support and fund them. It's a very simple answer - The low-income population should live where the opportunity and access of jobs exist. How simple is that??? If the suburbs want to take the economic growth from urban areas, than it should also plan to house everyone that wants access to that economic growth. For the past 40 years, there's been white-flight to the suburbs that has robbed urban areas of economic growth, of course with the desire to work where they live. Now suburbs don't want to be accountable for that growth, they want to shift that responsibility some where else. It has to STOP!!! Our environment, our ability to compete as a State and our economy can no longer support this racially-biased landscape anymore. SHAME ON THE NEW JERSEY LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES