In a tough, declining housing market age restricted communities were, for years, developers’ saving grace. Such senior affordable housing was also incredibly attractive to municipalities as they attempted to increase the property tax base, without adding children to the school system. Evidence tells us now though that affordable senior housing is no longer immune to the challenging and difficult economy and real estate market. The 55 and over real estate market is no longer thriving. Otteau Valuation Group, an East Brunswick real estate research firm estimates that there are enough age restricted communities built in New Jersey and in the pipeline to meet demand for the next 15 to 20 years.
Recently, bills were introduced in both the state senate and assembly by which municipalities that removed age restrictions on developments that have not yet been built would have their affordable housing obligations reduced. Legislators in favor of these bills hope that such a law would revive the construction of housing for middle class working families. At the same time, developers of troubled age restricted communities are seeking planning board approvals by which their pending projects (whether un-built or partially built) are freed from the age-restrictions. In exchange, municipalities, while allowing the removal of the age restrictions, are securing promises of more affordable housing, units with floor plans that are not family friendly, and enhanced recreational spaces.
In the end, the challenging and difficult economy and real estate market continue to alter the way governments, developers, homeowners, professionals and others operate.