NJ Municipalities to Lose Significant Funding on July 17th
As the July 17, 2012 the deadline for the expenditure of affordable housing trust funds and the surrounding controversy looms, the Governor’s decision to capture any unspent funds continues to draw the attention of the press.
“’It’s as if the governor’s office set them up to fail,’ said Staci Berger, the director of policy and advocacy for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, a coalition of housing advocates. ‘They never set the definitions, then they said, ‘You never spent the money.’ And now they’re saying, ‘We’re going to take the money.’”
Local communities across New Jersey, including 10 Morris County municipalities, New Brunswick, Princeton and Marlboro (in Monmouth County), are working to spend their unspent funds rather than have to return them to the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH.) A total of 221 municipalities stand to lose hundreds of millions each. The grand total is $161.3 million.
Quoting from the Times article,
“… Housing advocates say the affordable-housing program has been in such disarray in recent years that it has been difficult to determine what projects qualify and what constitutes a commitment. According to them, the rules were never spelled out, and the housing council, with its uncertain status, was neither reviewing nor approving projects.”
And now, projects are getting approved but these decisions are not certain enough that many municipalities feel comfortable moving ahead.
As Monarch Housing Associates has previously reported, there is state legislation being considered to extend the deadline by 2 years but if it does not pass, the trust funds money will return to the state and most likely help balance the state budget.
On June 16, 2012, the Star-Ledger carried an editorial, “Council on Affordable Housing’s Cookie Jar: Towns Deserve Extensions to Spend Housing Dollars Wisely.” The piece makes the case for replacing the bureaucratic COAH system and writes,
“Christie tried to hastily shutter COAH, and the board has not met in months, tossing many municipalities into confusion over whether their spending plans for the trust fund dollars pass muster. As COAH pulls itself up from the curb and dusts itself off, both the agency and town officials that look to it for guidance should have the extra time to get it right.”
The state’s high court will hear arguments in the fall as to whether COAH can be reorganized and if the funds should be shifted to the Department of Community Affairs.
The Asbury Park Press also posted an editorial on June 18, 2012.
Click here to read The New York Times piece.
Click here to read the Star-Ledger editorial.
Click here to read the Asbury Park Press editorial.