BRIEFLY EXPLAIN THE RECENT NJ SUPREME COURT DECISION RELATED TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING OVERSIGHT.

After sixteen years without viable and constitutional regulations for Affordable Housing, the Supreme Court created new mechanisms to meet Affordable Housing goals. To really explain this issue, we need to go back for some history. In 1975 the Supreme Court said every municipality has an obligation to provide a reasonable opportunity for Affordable Housing. In other words, there needs to be a variety of choice in housing for residents and citizens of New Jersey at all income levels. In the eighties, the courts created a methodology to provide Builders’ Remedies, whereby builders who brought suit and established that municipalities engaged in exclusionary zoning would be granted the remedy of rezoning of their property for an inclusionary development, providing for a percentage of affordable housing within a market rate project. In response the legislature adopted the Fair Housing Act (FHA) whereby the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) was delegated as the authority to create and enforce regulations concerning affordable housing. Since 1999, COAH has failed to act in a responsible manner to create those regulations—we’ve been without constitutionally satisfactory regulations for sixteen (16) years.


Continue Reading Affordable Housing Oversight: Q & A

As you are undoubtedly well aware, the March 10, 2015 ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court stripping the Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) of their oversight of the constitutional obligation of every municipality in New Jersey to plan for and accommodate affordable housing has effectively changed the rules for all of us.

The Rules

On March 10, 2015, setting aside the state’s “non-functioning” affordable housing process, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling removing executive branch jurisdiction over low- and moderate-income housing and sent enforcement and oversight back to the trial courts. The ruling is the most significant action in 40 years, when the court originally established the so-called Mount Laurel doctrine, which held that municipalities must provide their “fair share” of affordable housing.

In many ways, the recent decision turns back the clock to a time when individuals, developers, and advocates had to sue to prevent municipalities from blocking approval of zoning for affordable housing development. Although generally regarded as unlikely, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) – the executive branch body tasked with setting fair housing obligations and approving municipal plans for meeting those obligations – still has the opportunity, as spelled out in the court’s decision, to reverse their inaction and set new rules.

Continue Reading Are You Ready? New Jersey Supreme Court Sends Affordable Housing Oversight Back to Trial Courts