Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Affordable Housing Rules Ok'd

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Affordable Housing Rules Ok'd

Article excerpt

Meeting for the first time since the state Supreme Court ordered them to convene, members of the Council on Affordable Housing voted on Wednesday to approve new rules that govern affordable-housing development in every one of the state's towns.

Affordable housing is one of New Jersey's most contentious social and political issues, even more fraught since Governor Christie tried to disband the council and was rebuffed by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday's action - a vote made a day before the Supreme Court deadline for action - adds to the tension in part because the rules themselves were unclear and not available to the public until after the vote.

Council members received the rules the day before the meeting. Some complained they were not given enough time to review the hundreds of pages of detailed documents before voting.

"We can't just get stuff at the last minute and be asked to vote on it," said Tim Doherty, a council member. "I spent most of yesterday reading it and trying to understand it."

He added, "There is no one chart in these rules that gives the municipality the number" of affordable housing units it must build and renovate.

The new rules call for about 30,000 new affordable units over the next 10 years. In addition, more than 60,000 current affordable units that are considered deficient must be dealt with by 2024. The third category the rules touched upon were affordable-housing units that municipalities were supposed to have built in earlier years but did not. They will have to build 10,000 from this category over 10 years.

Affordable-housing advocates were not happy.

"These rules are the biggest giveaways to developers in state history," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, which is concerned about the impact on open space. "There is no economic basis for this other than to enrich developers and builders. …

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