Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) Abolished

Richard Bass, Urban Planner, Herrick's Land Use Group | November 21, 2011 in Affordable Housing,New Jersey | Comments (2)

New Jersey’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) has been officially abolished, with Gov. Chris Christie’s administration announcing that affordable housing oversight has been transferred to another department of the state government.  Christie issued a reorganization plan in June to eliminate the 12-member housing board and switch its duties to the Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”).

The reorganization was criticized by Kevin Walsh, associate director of the Fair Share Housing Center, who said “the governor is attempting to consolidate power so he can allow municipalities where the wealthiest New Jerseyans live keep out working folks.”  According to the governor, the goal of the re-organization plan is to address the needs of both the providers and beneficiaries of affordable housing in New Jersey by organizing all programs within a single regulatory body.   

According to the Office of the DCA Commissioner, the Commissioner will support the creation of affordable housing by increasing regulatory flexibility and efficiency and immediately implementing interim streamlined protocols regarding the following: review of requests for agency action, including waiver and motion requests; review and approval of spending plans; review and approval of development fee ordinances; approval of Administrative Agents and Municipal Housing Liaisons; approval of affordable housing operating manuals; and public noticing procedures.  The Commissioner’s interim procedures, supposedly will help foster predictability and consistency for municipalities, developers and housing advocates, curb procedural inefficiencies that result in unreasonable delays and costs to municipalities and the private sector, while promoting the availability of affordable housing throughout the State.  The Commissioner will propose permanent procedures pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

Because there was previous confusion/contention regarding how to determine a municipalities “fair share” of existing and future affordable housing need, and how to meet that need, it seems that the NJ courts will yet again be asked to intervene in the creation of affordable housing.  It has been 36 years since the first Mt. Laurel decision (Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. v. Township of Mount Laurel, 67 N.J. 151 (1975); how many more years will it take to resolve?

New Jersey Affordable Housing Update: New COAH Rules and an Evolving Process

Richard Bass, Urban Planner, Herrick's Land Use Group | February 22, 2011 in Affordable Housing,New Jersey | Comments (49)

The Council of Affordable Housing (COAH) is the State agency responsible for establishing and monitoring municipal affordable housing obligations in New Jersey.  COAH resulted from the Fair Housing Act of 1985 in response to a series of New Jersey Supreme Court cases known as the Mount Laurel decisions.   In those decisions, the Supreme Court established a constitutional obligation for each of  New Jersey’s 566 municipalities to establish a realistic opportunity for the provision of affordable housing obligations, generally through land use and zoning powers.   New COAH Rules regarding the creation of affordable housing in New Jersey are due March 8, 2011. 

In the latest set of COAH rules (known as the Third Round Rules), the organization identified a need for 115,000 affordable units statewide over 20 years between 1999 and 2018, or about 5,750 units annually.  According to these rules, for every five units of housing built, one of the units must be affordable.  A municipality is only responsible for building affordable housing when market rate housing and commercial development is proposed–the concept is when growth occurs, affordable housing should be built as part of that growth.  In 2010, NJ added 23,000 homes and 49.6 million square feet of non-residential construction.  This is viewed as an opportunity for affordable housing planning.

COAH is a little known organization, but it’s one you should know about (especially with new rules right around the corner). (more…)