Start Prioritizing Affordable Housing

If Governor Murphy Does Not Take the Lead in Meeting Affordable Housing Needs, Legislators Must

A November 18, 2018 editorial in the Asbury Park Press makes the case that the State of New Jersey should start prioritizing affordable housing.”

Writing about New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s speech at the State League of Municipalities conference, “Housing for low-income residents hasn’t been much of a priority for Murphy, and he provided little reason to expect that to change anytime soon; he didn’t give the issue any meaningful attention at all.”

  • The state is not meeting the affordable housing needs of the low-income New Jersey families who need housing the most.
  • Instead New Jersey Superior Court judges have the authority to control affordable housing at the municipal level which makes for a very piecemeal and inefficient process.

And while Governor Murphy and legislators have not taken the lead on making affordable housing priority, local municipal leaders are also not supportive. Municipal leaders give a variety of reasons why affordable housing won’t “work” or “fit into” their communities

“But the dirty little non-so-secret is that many communities simply don’t want to share their neighborhoods with lower-income residents. That bigotry is usually couched in more pragmatic terms – such as the absence of the kind of public transportation that many such residents might require – but the belief that certain people don’t “belong” in more affluent communities is an undeniable undercurrent in the entire process.”

Asbury Park Press Press Editorial

Asbury Park Press Editorial

The Mount Laurel Doctrine has led to the development of over 60,000 affordable housing units outside New Jersey’s racially and economically-segregated urban centers.

Many municipalities do not want to build their “fair share” of affordable housing. “The last formal rules and housing quotas expired nearly two decades ago, and the Supreme Court, weary of legislative apathy, eventually authorized Superior Court judges to jump-start construction. More than 200 municipalities have gained approval for their plans through negotiations with the Fair Share Housing Center, the chief affordable-housing advocates in the state. But that leaves hundreds more still reluctant to take action, perhaps hoping to skate past their obligations for as long as possible.”

The editorial makes the conclusion that, “Lawmakers cannot stay on the sidelines any longer. If Murphy doesn’t prioritize affordable housing, others must.”

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