Affordable Housing & Counseling in New Jersey
What Is Affordable Housing?

Affordable Housing & Counseling in New Jersey

Affordable housing, unlike market rate housing, has affordability controls limiting the price for at least 30 years. COAH Pro considers housing “affordable” if the household pays approximately 28% or less of its gross income on housing costs. Affordable housing is priced to be affordable to households earning up to 80% of the area median income for the region in which it is located. We at COAH Pro provide affordable housing & counseling in New Jersey to individuals who are dreaming of having their own houses in New Jersey.

The 565 municipalities consist of 254 boroughs, 52 cities, 15 towns, 241 townships and 3 villages.

There are several affordable housing projects in New Jersey. For affordable housing purposes, the State of New Jersey divided the 21 counties in NJ into 6 affordable housing regions.

Background of Affordable Housing
  • The Supreme Court of New Jersey determined that municipalities have the constitutional obligation to provide the opportunity for affordable housing.
    • Towns cannot use zoning rules to prohibit this.
    • Opportunities have to be made available by the town, but it can’t be forced to pay for this.
  • Developers or non-profits have the opportunity to build such units.
  • Affordable housing cannot be limited to residents of that municipality but is open to everyone in the state.
  • The State of New Jersey has 6 housing regions, which were established by planners and statisticians.
  • Income categories:
      • Moderate-income household
      • Low-income household
      • Very low-income household

    Numbers that define each category vary based on region.

  • There are disparities in the regions. For example, Newark and Morristown are in the same region, although their socioeconomic statistics are different from each other.
  • Rent escalations are allowed but can be raised no more than 1 time per year.
  • The maximum amount of rent that can be increased is 9% per year.
History of Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing Projects in New Jersey

  • 1975 Supreme Court decided that municipalities must zone for low and moderate income housing (Mt Laurel I). The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs in the case of Southern Burlington NAACP v. Mount Laurel Township. This decision, known as Mount Laurel I, outlawed exclusionary zoning and required all New Jersey municipalities to provide their “fair share” of their region’s affordable housing. This landmark civil rights case established one of the strongest frameworks in the country to prevent and address residential segregation.

  • 1983 Supreme Court implemented a court-administered program due to non-compliance. In particular, the court permitted “builders remedy” lawsuits in which builders were permitted to sue municipalities to force compliance. (i.e. the builder gets to build higher density in a non-compliant town). (Mt Laurel II) Ray. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld its initial Mount Laurel I decision. This second ruling created new avenues to ensure compliance with the Mount Laurel Doctrine, including the builder’s remedy. Mount Laurel II also invited the legislature to draft legislation to implement the doctrine. These new laws led to several affordable housing projects in New Jersey.

  • 1985 The New Jersey Fair Housing Act (FHA) is enacted to replace the court ordered system with a state system to improve efficiency. The FHA in turn created the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to assess the needs of municipalities and implement rules (Mt Laurel II). The New Jersey Legislature passed the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in 1985 to implement the Mount Laurel Doctrine. The FHA established the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and an administrative process for towns to submit affordable housing plans to COAH. COAH became responsible for the oversight and compliance of the Mount Laurel Doctrine. 1975 1983 1985 2008 In 2008, after decades of work by FSHC and coalition partners, the Fair Housing Act was amended to eliminate Regional Contribution Agreements (RCA’s). RCA’s permitted wealthier towns to pay poorer towns to satisfy their affordable housing obligations, thereby undermining the Mount Laurel Doctrine.

  • In 2008 amendments also expanded the definition of affordable housing to include the third category of very low-income housing.

  • 2010 Court (Appellate Division) invalidates third round ‘growth share’ rules

  • 2011 Governor Christie abolishes COAH

  • 2013 Supreme Court says the Governor has no authority to abolish COAH

  • 2014 COAH members cannot agree on rules and a vote is split therefore the proposed Third Round Rules are not adopted.

  • 2015 Supreme Court steps in again and sets up declaratory judgement for evaluating “constitutional compliance.” COAH is declared defunct and going forward the determination of affordable housing obligations would be administered by the county courts throughout the state. July 8, 2015 Deadline for filing declaratory judgement actions. After fifteen years of nonenforcement of the Mount Laurel Doctrine by COAH, the New Jersey Supreme Court held in Mount Laurel IV that the judicial system would be responsible for municipal compliance with the Mount Laurel Doctrine. Since 2015, as the legal entity designated to represent the interests of the public by the New Jersey Supreme Court, Fair Share Housing Center has entered into affordable housing settlement agreements with more than 340 municipalities throughout the state.

  • In 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the third round of affordable housing obligations should include the 15 year gap period when COAH did not enforce the Doctrine. This decision ensured that municipalities would be held accountable for their failure to meet their towns’ needs for affordable housing while COAH was a defunct state agency 2022

  • In 2022, for the first time, the New Jersey Fiscal Year 2023 Budget included a line item of $305M specifically dedicated to the development of already approved affordable housing projects in Mount Laurel settlement agreements. This significant victory, secured through FSHC’s advocacy, will accelerate affordable housing development across the state. An anticipated 3,300 affordable homes will be built with this funding.

One can receive the best affordable housing & counseling in New Jersey at COAH Pro with Auntie Dee.

Get Help to get Affordable Housing

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