Mount Laurel affordable housing decision made dreams come true
Children playing outside Ethel R. Lawrence Homes
On Sunday, April 22, 2012, the Star-Ledger published an article highlighting the success of affordable housing in NJ in the forty years since the Mt. Laurel decision. The article “Mount Laurel affordable housing decision made dreams come true“ reviews the success of one family living in Ethel Lawrence Homes in Mount Laurel Township in rural Burlington County.
The ruling 40 years ago set off numerous court battles as towns fought back, trying to raise the drawbridge against Rios and other Camden families who yearned for peace and quiet and better schools. To a large extent, the resistance to Mount Laurel has succeeded. Only 60,000 affordable units have been built throughout the state under Mount Laurel mandate, as administered by the Council on Affordable Housing.
But the assumptions and fears fueling critics’ resistance is groundless, according to Douglas Massey, a Princeton professor who led a study of Mount Laurel Township and Ethel Lawrence Homes. Twelve years after Ethel Lawrence opened, Mount Laurel Township has experienced no increase in crime or decline in property values. The study did find that many of the hopes new residents carried with them into Ethel Lawrence — for better schools, a sense of safety and community — have been fulfilled.
Mr. Massey is one of the presenters at a Woodrow Wilson School Policy Forum: Forty Years after Mt. Laurel?New Findings about the Effects of Affordable Housing this Thursday from 8 am to 3 pm.
I hope it will prevent opposition to affordable housing projects around the nation and in New Jersey by showing residents they have nothing to fear.
I hope it gives Gov. (Chris) Christie pause about the line his administration has been taking and, instead of fighting Mount Laurel, embracing it as a blueprint and model to build affordable housing developments that benefit everyone. You’ve got a population at Ethel Lawrence that now earns higher incomes and pays more taxes. I don’t see what the downside is.
We agree with his research and the success of affordable as well as supportive housing. There is no downside only benefit to everyone. The success of Sandra Rios is one testament to the benefits.
Let’s work together to ensure that everyone has a home where his or her dreams can come true.