Supreme Court Rules COAH Cannot be Abolished

Court Finds Governor Does Not
Have Power to Abolish Independent Agencies

Supreme Court Rules COAH Cannot be AbolishedIn a 5-2 decision issued this morning, the NJ Supreme Court ruled that Governor Christie does not have the authority to eliminate an independent agency such the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

Following the announcement, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) Executive Director Staci Berger issued the following statement:

“The COAH board should represent the interests of a diverse population. We’re pleased that the Court has recognized the need for a variety of stakeholders including nonprofits to be involved in creating more affordable homes for New Jersey residents. Our leaders need to work together to ensure that our residents have a range of homes to choose from which will help our economy grow. We applaud this decision for helping move New Jersey forward.”

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness and the CSH had joined the Network in an amicus brief requesting that the Court invalidate Governor Christie’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) reorganization plan.

CSH NJ Director Alison Recca-Ryan issued the following statement:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms that the laws on the books cannot be ignored. New Jersey’s most vulnerable and low-income residents will once again have an entity and process in place to implement the state’s fair housing laws, including local affordable housing obligations, ensuring an array of choices to call home throughout the state.”

Housing advocates had argued to the Court in the amicus that by transferring COAH responsibilities to the DCA Commissioner, the governor becomes the sole, exclusive and absolute arbiter of affordable housing compliance; the public would be shut out of decision making which would happen behind closed doors. Without a provision for the interplay of a diverse array of views and perspectives, such as those offered by nonprofit and special needs developers, compliance with the Mt. Laurel obligation would be lacking. Further, the brief asserts that the Executive Order violates the separation of powers between branches of government as well as the Fair Housing Act.

To learn more, click here to read about today’s decision from Fair Share Housing Center.