Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Jersey Legislation May Eliminate Council on Affordable Housing

Last year, a New Jersey State Senate bill was adopted that would accomplish two things: 1) abolish the state's Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), and; 2) eliminate affordable housing requirements. Supporters of the bill say COAH rules are too complicated and haven't increased low-income housing like they're supposed to. Housing advocates, however, say both the regulations and COAH itself are needed to ensure adequate housing is developed in the state.
Numerous lawsuits regarding COAH regulations have been filed over the years; the result, many people say, of regulations that have become too complicated. In 2008, COAH adopted several "third round rules" including the calculation used to determine how many affordable housing units were required in any particular municipality. An Appellate Court ruling on last fall struck down 22 of those rules. Opponents of COAH say the ruling proves that the Council has become ineffective and cumbersome to housing development.
The primary complaint against COAH rules is that its low-income housing ratio requirement drives development, rather than development guiding the regulation. Each year, COAH tells municipalities how many affordable housing units they're required to develop, based on a variety of factors. Once those figures are released, developers are allowed to build market-rate and affordable units at a four-to-one ratio. The rule doesn't take into account over-development or overcrowding issues.
The battle over COAH and New Jersey affordable housing rules has continued into the new year. The New Jersey legislature recently approved the bill abolishing COAH, but Governor Chris Christie has said he will veto it. No final decision has been made regarding COAH or New Jersey rules regarding affordable housing development.

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