On Monday July 2, 2012, Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) filed an application to file an Emergent Motion in the Appellate Court to stop the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) from taking any municipal housing trust funds until it has promulgated regulations to determine what “committed” means under N.J.S.A.
COAH has refused to provide any determination either through regulation or in individual cases of what “committed” means and on Friday, June 29, 2012, Governor Christie line item vetoed legislative budget language providing a safe harbor definition of “committed” and allowed for the provision of up to $200 million in municipal trust funds that have not been “committed” to be transferred from municipal accounts to the state’s General Fund beginning on July 17, 2012.
FSHC’s Emergent Application seeks an immediate preliminary injunction against COAH taking any money from any municipal housing trust fund prior to the appeal being heard and upon briefing and argument, a permanent injunction against COAH taking any money from the trust funds until COAH promulgated regulations as required by law and giving all affected parties an opportunity to comply.
Immediately after filing the Emergent Application, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities filed a letter in support of the Application and requested permission to file as an amicus. The Emergent Application and the League’s request to file as an amicus were both granted on the afternoon of July 2. With the impending deadlines, a short briefing schedule was issued. FSHC’s brief and the League’s brief were due and submitted on July 6. COAH’s brief is due today. Oral argument will be held before the Appellate Division this Friday, July 13 at 10:00 a.m. in the Veterans Courthouse in Newark.
Governor Christie’s efforts to take the housing trust funds has left towns and cities across the state in limbo. The Fair Lawn Patch is reporting:
“One municipality has $400,000 in contracts to rebuild deteriorated housing and convert an abandoned school. Another has plans for 151 units, including some for very low-income special-needs adults. A third is collaborating with other state agencies on a supportive housing project. None of these municipalities, nor any other in New Jersey, knows if its plans are sufficient to stop the state from taking $161 million in affordable housing trust fund money held for the communities to build low- and moderate-income units.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a July 11, 2012 editorial criticizing Governor Christie’s efforts and his plans for the trust fund money:
“Given his poor record, Christie’s claim that the funds would be used for other housing programs seems unlikely. Housing advocates are right to challenge the maneuver in court.”
Click here for the Fairlawn Patch’s coverage of the issue.
Click here to read the full Philadelphia Inquirer editorial.