Supreme Court Orders New Affordable Housing Rules
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. September 26, 2013
New Jersey’s Supreme Court is giving state officials five months to rewrite affordable housing rules.
The Justices struck down a "growth-share" formula approved by the Council on Affordable Housing that required towns to build additional affordable housing units only when new market rate housing or commercial development was proposed.
The majority opinion in the 3-to-2 decision said that’s not consistent with New Jersey's 1985 Fair Housing Act.
Kevin Walsh is associate director of the Fair Share Housing Center. He says the court’s ruling is a victory for Garden State residents who need housing.
“It makes sure that municipalities can’t stand in the way of efforts to provide housing people can afford. It’s a decision that upholds the Mount Laurel doctrine and says that New Jersey’s wealthier communities can’t exclude working families and others.”
Walsh believes towns will have to change their zoning to provide for more affordable housing construction.
“It’s not something that’s based on the municipal decision whether to grow or not, which is the sort of thing that under a home rule system can be abused by towns that want malls, but don’t want workers to work in those malls to live in their town.”
Governor Christie's office is not commenting on the court’s decision.