Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli have, along with a number of Democrats, introduced a bill clarifying municipalities cannot be forced to meet retroactive affordable housing requirements, specifically because the Fair Housing Act does not impose such requirements.
The bipartisan bill was drafted in the wake of a court ruling that could set a dangerous precedent requiring towns statewide to include tens of thousands of more affordable housing units than they are obligated to provide under the Fair Housing Act.
“Municipalities need a clear set of guidelines for providing affordable housing,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “Instead, one court has handed down a misguided mandate that clearly violates established law. Far too many New Jerseyans are still struggling to find adequate housing. Municipalities are scrambling to understand and meet their housing obligations. It’s time to stop playing games in the courts and focus on enacting real, comprehensive affordable housing reform.”
— Senator Kip Bateman (@KipBateman) May 18, 2016
S-2254 was drafted after an Ocean County court judge incorrectly concluded that municipalities’ affordable housing obligations should, in addition to present and future low and moderate income households, retroactively include those low and moderate income households created during the past 15 years.
Contrary to the court’s ruling, retroactive housing requirements are not mandated under the Fair Housing Act or the constitution. The clear departure from settled law necessitates the need for the legislation.
“This bill will protect municipalities coping with this erroneous court ruling and ensure towns statewide do not fall victim to a potentially catastrophic legal precedent,” Assemblyman Ciattarelli (R-16) said. “The last thing we need right now are convoluted and unnecessary regulations. What we truly need is keen focus on implementing real affordable housing reform. Bill S-2254 is an essential short-term solution. Enacting additional commonsense reforms, as outlined in our soon-to-be released omnibus reform bill, will give communities the authority and flexibility they need to provide enough affordable housing for those who need it most.”
Bateman/Ciattarelli Plans for Comprehensive Affordable Housing Reform
Senator Bateman and Assemblyman Ciattarelli also announced plans to sponsor an omnibus reform bill. The bill allows municipalities to administer their own affordable housing obligations, returning flexibility and autonomy to all communities. Doing so will protect the environment and open space, ease the property tax burden and prevent costly construction in towns that are already battling overcrowding, the legislators added.
- New and important changes to the comprehensive reform bill this session will include:
- Repeal the 2.5 percent commercial development fee to incentivize more developers to build affordable housing.
- Creates an RCA-like option for municipalities.
- Under this new component, developers or municipalities would pay a fee into the municipal or state affordable housing trust fund.
- The fee must equate to the current average cost for providing one tenant-based State rental assistance subsidy in that region, multiplied by 20 years.
- Municipalities could choose this option in lieu of building each inclusionary unit required in their community.
More information on the omnibus bill will be announced in the coming weeks.