Court clouds housing picture: Affordable program rejected in Mercer

This appeared in the Trenton Times. The impact across the state for municipalities is certainly significant. But the impact on non-profit supportive housing developers is dramatic. The most significant impact however will be on the homeless and low income families and individuals who desperately need housing.Your comments will be appreciated.

Court clouds housing picture
Affordable program rejected in Mercer

Saturday, January 27, 2007

BY LINDA STEIN AND DARRYL R. ISHERWOOD
STAFF WRITERS

Townships throughout Mercer County yesterday scrambled to understand the effect of Thursday’s court ruling scrapping the state’s plans for providing housing for low and moderate income residents.

The plan, which was established by the state Council on Affordable Housing, was thrown out by a state appeals court in a ruling that has sparked nail biting among local officials who fear that under new rules their affordable housing obligation and financial responsibility could skyrocket.

“The mayor has directed our housing and engineering department to look at the implications and on first blush it seems there is a mix of good and bad news,” said Hamilton Township official Rich McClellan. “It will take some time to sort out.”

McClellan said township officials’ major concern is that the affordable housing landscape is now once again jumbled.

“The concern is that it is now up in the air and whenever things are up in the air, like the proverbial arrow, they fall to earth we know not where.”

The court ruled that the state plan, which was designed to fairly distribute affordable housing around the state, was based on flawed assumptions and diluted numbers. The state has six months to develop a new proposal. The strategy was developed in 2004, a full five years after the state’s previous plan expired, and was to govern affordable housing distribution until 2016.

The ruling puts in jeopardy affordable housing plans filed with the state by some 382 municipalities. Of those, 262 have filed plans with the state, 50 have plans that are pending and 70 are embroiled in lawsuits with developers of their affordable housing plans.

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