First Step Should Be to Acknowledge New Jersey’s Housing Crisis
On January 31, 2018, NJSpotlight reported “Housing Transition Team Advises Murphy: First, Acknowledge the Crisis.”
The report from Governor Murphy’s Housing Transition Team lays out six priorities to increase affordable housing and end foreclosures and does not call for the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to be resurrected.
But the report does recommend:
- reinstating the position of senior deputy commissioner of housing in the Department of Community Affairs and
- the Statewide Commission of Housing.
Both were created by the Fair Housing Act of 2008 but Governor Christie’s administration never filled the position or reinstated the Statewide Commission on Housing.
“Gov. Phil Murphy’s Housing Transition Advisory Committee recommends that he acknowledge New Jersey has a housing crisis and set six priorities for increasing New Jersey’s housing stock and keeping people in their homes, none of which includes a reconstitution of the state Council on Affordable Housing,” reported NJSpotlight.
Regarding COAH and the continuation of the current process, “Once the court process is complete, the next iteration of an administrative agent must be in place,” the report states. “This will provide time for the commission to explore the optimal administrative agent and process to govern municipal fair-share requirements in New Jersey.”
“Michael Cerra, assistant executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, said not recommending a replacement for the current court process, which he termed “dysfunctional, costly, ineffective and inefficient” for towns, is the report’s greatest missed opportunity.”
“The state has vacated the playing field, both the Legislature and the previous administration,” Cerra said of inaction on affordable-housing rules. “This was certainly an opportunity to contemplate how administrative functions could re-engage, but instead it downplays and punts on that issue.”
The transition team’s report confirms the findings of other reports that New Jersey faces an affordable housing crisis. “About four in 10 households here struggle to pay housing and other costs and the state needs 150,000 new affordable homes immediately and a way to ensure the ongoing production of more units, according to the report.”
“This housing crisis undermines the governor’s goal of a stronger and fairer economy and contributes to the exodus of families, millennials, and seniors,” it states. “In the past eight years, this housing crisis has not been a State priority. In fact, funds to support the development and preservation of affordable homes have been re-allocated to the general treasury, exacerbating the housing problem. This has led to disjointed programs scattered across multiple departmental divisions attempting to fill gaps.”
Other areas the report states should be among the six priorities that will be critical to preventing and ending homelessness in New Jersey and addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis are:
- Reduce barriers to creating housing by streamlining approvals for inclusionary developments, remove other barriers to construction and providing greater planning support to municipalities.
- Provide legal assistance to those facing eviction or foreclosure by implementing a pilot program to give representation to those threatened with a loss of their homes and to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
- End homelessness by restructuring programs that help the homeless, making it a priority to provide permanent, supportive housing to all in need, increasing fees to fund county or a statewide Homeless Trust Fund to pay for shelters, and banning the blacklisting of tenants who had a prior housing court appearance.”
The Murphy administration has issued 14 reports and used transition committees to gather recommendations.