Lawmakers unveil plan to build more affordable housing

New Jersey Assembly members Roberts, Watson Coleman and Green have unveiled a 12 point plan to “will lead to the creation of greater affordable housing opportunities in New Jersey.”

To read the full plan click here.

The 12 proposals are:

* Abolish RCAs: End the reprehensible practice of allowing municipalities to duck their affordable housing responsibilities, but give urban communities new funding so they don’t have to rely on RCAs.

* 20-percent set aside for state projects: Establish a 20-percent affordable housing set aside for all state-assisted development projects — such Smart Growth Areas and Transit villages; state needs to lead by example.

* New Housing Trust Fund: Create a reconstituted state affordable housing umbrella fund with an expanded pool of revenue sources.

* Tax Credits: Make federal Low Income Tax Credits available to private developers; New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington, and California already do this.

* Increasing Access: Expand middle-income eligibility for affordable housing units and promote production of housing units for families earning less than 30 percent of the state’s median income.

* Utilizing school funding: Use school funding formula to award towns that provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income students.

* No eminent domain erosion: Prevent eminent domain from reducing existing pool of affordable housing units in New Jersey.

* Use it or lose it: Support DCA’s idea of preventing towns from stockpiling — and never using — local trust funds meant for construction of affordable housing.

* Reward balanced housing: Mandate municipalities provide density bonuses to developers constructing inclusionary developments.

* Create fair-share bonus: Require the Council on Affordable Housing to account for existing affordable-housing units when allocating town’s fair share; state regulations need to take into accounts towns that are doing the right thing.

* Long-term planning: Create a task force specifically assigned to mapping out a “comprehensive housing plan.”

* Greater transparency: Do a better job of tracking progress on affordable housing through regular publication of statistical reports.

According to the official press release “the policy alternatives were identified after a review of housing policies in other states, discussions with other legislators and input from the following stakeholders:

1) the Housing and Community Development Network;
2) Community Investment Strategies;
3) the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment;
4) the Fair Share Housing Center;
5) Homes for New Jersey;
6) the Apartment Association;
7) the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties;
8) the New Jersey League of Municipalities;
9) the New Jersey Manufactured Housing Association; and
10) the Department of Community Affairs.

Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Union) said the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee he chairs will hold a hearing on the Roberts-Watson Coleman plan December 10.

To read press coverage about the plan click here.