Affordable housing must be a shared goal statewide

This was an editorial in today’s Home News Tribune.

Home News Tribune Online 06/8/07

It has never been fair, nor especially wise, that suburban towns in New Jersey have been allowed to pay the cities to take on a share of their affordable-housing obligations. That device known as a regional contribution agreement, or RCA, has produced surging redevelopment in many urban areas, but it has defeated the overriding purpose of the Mount Laurel court decisions: to provide the poorest of state residents access to homes and lives in communities to which they otherwise would never have access.

Urban lawmakers enjoy the situation as it stands, and they want to preserve it. Understandable. It benefits their districts and it benefits them. But what of the rest of the state?

That is the question that Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, D-Camden, is asking these days. And he’s attempting to address it by pushing legislation that would finally do away with those regional contribution agreements, forcing the wealthier burbs to finally accept their fair share. Good.

But go slowly, everyone. New Jersey has gotten so much wrong with the way it builds affordable housing, and it needs to get this one right.