Tag Archive: housing

What’s Your Trump Era Top 5?

I’ve been thinking about that scene in Forrest Gump when he runs back and forth across the country for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. He gains a following. People find purpose in what he’s doing. He’s peppered with questions…
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Housing Investments Create Opportunities for All: Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget

This is the 4th in our 7-week series Rethink the 2016 NJ Budget with Anti-Poverty Network. Arnold is Senior Policy Coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network (HCDNNJ). Look for posts every Mon & Wed around Noon. Promoted by Rosi.

Rethink the 2016 NJ BudgetThe most densely populated state in the nation is also the most economically diverse. New Jersey is home to some of the wealthiest places as well as some of the poorest. The problem we’re experiencing is that due to our slow economic recovery, the foreclosure crisis, and Superstorm Sandy, a growing number of our residents are finding themselves among the working poor. Sadly, the State isn’t making the crucial investments needed to create more affordable home opportunities.

unnamedNew Jersey has an imbalanced housing market. Luxury rentals and McMansions are plentiful but more modest affordable rentals and starter homes are few and far between. As housing costs outpace wages, demand for affordable homes is soaring, but we are faced with a housing crisis because housing production dollars are being diverted and we are underinvesting in assistance for those who need it.  

The State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) assists very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe housing. In recent years however, the number of SRAP vouchers have declined due to under-investment despite the increased need. In order to address the housing needs of extremely low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities, SRAP must be funded at a level that will provide the full 5,000 vouchers funded in fiscal year 2011. In addition, Governor Christie has used dollars from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund – which is intended for housing production – to fund SRAP. This has left no money from the State’s fund, which is dedicated for affordable housing to rehabilitate or build new homes low income people can afford. We need to free up money for housing production by funding at least half of SRAP from either the General Fund or a dedicated funding stream to meet a demand that has surpassed supply.

Be Careful What You Wish For, Governor

Four decades ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued what is known today as the Mount Laurel Decision – an interpretation of the state constitution that requires affordable housing be made available in the state’s municipalities. Ten years after that decision, the state legislature created the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), an agency that was charged with developing the regulations and approach to comply with the court’s order.

Chris Christie has never been a fan of affordable housing. From Day One of his administration, he has tried to eviscerate and neuter COAH. His minions stonewalled, met infrequently, and never satisfactorily executed the agency’s mission. This week, Christie got his wish. COAH is dead. But not in the way he wanted.

Because of the agency’s intransigence, the New Jersey Supreme Court stripped COAH of its powers and ordered local courts to start to ensure that the requirements for affordable housing are complied with.

The attorney who argued this case is Kevin Walsh, Executive Director of the Fair Share Housing Center. I spoke with Walsh on the ongoing need for affordable housing in the state and the approach his organization will take to help meet that need.

Jump below the fold to see the interview, or for an audio podcast, click here.

An Air-brushed State of the City Address in Camden

Cross-posted from the Local Knowledge Blog.

“Air-brushing” Camden – DAMN – that’s the perfect phrase. Thanks, Stephen, for this post about what the Christie administration and official and corporate Camden refuse to give a damn about. THIS POST is what they should be reading. – Rosi

No matter how skeptical I am walking into the building, the shark room in the Camden Aquarium always takes my breath away. It’s majestic. It gives any event a little gravity. Not that the Cooper’s Ferry Annual Meeting, featuring the mayor’s State of the City Address, needed more pomp and circumstance. It had every Camden dignitary, politician, potential developer or cheerleader possible (and they were all thanked more than once). But the meeting made me sad. It made me sad because it was a dishonest conversation about Camden. The Narrative (with a capital N) was that everything is fixed, everything is getting better, everything is hopeful. But to make that case, the speakers had to hide the real Camden, the one I know and love. I long for the day that we can stand in front of developers and tell them about Camden as we know it, not about a 5 block radius of downtown, and talk about Camden’s diversity and history as assets, not something to sweep under the rug. I walked into the aquarium wanting to hear a pitch for Camden that asked people to be a part of what was already here, not pine about a mythical shining city that fails to resemble the city we live in.

Christie Administration Fails in New Affordable Housing Regulations

Diary rescue from Tuesday, with thanks to Yvette for an update on the continuing favoritism the Christie administration extends to New Jersey’s wealthy at the expense of lower-income NJ residents – and what housing advocates like Fair Share Housing Center are doing about it. Promoted by Rosi.

In 1985, following multiple state Supreme Court rulings that towns in New Jersey cannot exclude low- and moderate-income families through their planning and zoning powers, the New Jersey Legislature created the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). The Council, tasked with creating regulations on each municipality’s “fair share” of homes affordable to low- and moderate-income people, worked fairly well – with the notable exception of the since-outlawed Regional Contribution Agreements, which allowed wealthy towns to buy out of their fair share – through the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2000, COAH has been attempting and failing to come up with a new installment of regulations. The latest proposal by COAH, currently going through the administrative rulemaking process, is another disastrous failure.

This is not surprising because Governor Christie has consistently taken the position that towns should be able to exclude low- and moderate-income people, even people who work in their town. In September 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the Christie Administration’s so-called “growth share” approach to making New Jersey’s fair housing laws optional, and charged the Council with coming up with rules that followed what worked in the 1980s and 1990s. COAH’s response was the latest third round rules, which were released – after unexplained delays – on April 30, 2014. A process for commenting on the rules just concluded on August 1, including a public hearing in July that was packed with a diverse array of opponents to the rules. The Christie Administration and COAH are now considering the comments, with a final deadline of November 17 to adopt final rules.

Welcome to Mount Laurel, Gov. Christie

We hardly ever publish anything that comes by email, word-for-word. But this, jointly sent by NAACP and Fair Share Housing, is dead-on. The Mount Laurel Doctrine was a victory for low-income people, people with special needs and seniors. And Gov. Christie calls it “stupid.” – REE

Fair Share Housing Center logoThis morning, Gov. Christie will hold a town hall meeting in Mount Laurel Township.  We welcome him to this place where a civil rights lawsuit led to the promise that lower-income families, people with special needs, and seniors on fixed incomes will not be excluded from wealthier suburban towns.  We hope he leaves with an understanding of why his housing policies are so bad for New Jersey families struggling with our state’s high housing prices.

NAACP logoIn May 1970, the mayor of Mount Laurel rejected a proposed housing development for working families who wanted to remain in the township.  Speaking at their church, he said, “If you people” – by which he meant African Americans who had lived there for hundreds of years – “can’t afford to live in our town, then you’ll just have to leave.”  His disregard of the housing needs of Mount Laurel residents was also felt by people living in the region who were denied the opportunity to move to starter homes and apartments that Mount Laurel’s zoning prohibited.  The courts and eventually the Legislature found this to be unfair after the Southern Burlington and Camden County Branches of the NAACP, along with others, sued the municipality.  


What’s Happening Today Tue. 12/31/2013


As 2013 fades into history, let’s look forward to tomorrow. There is plenty of unfinished business to occupy our attention in 2014. Here are some suggestions:

  • Budget Safety Net: The poor and the middle class are not a priority for Gov. Christie, but with an upcoming strained budget they must be for the legislature.

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Continue local efforts in support of this national initiative and urge your congressman to support it.

  • Drug Courts & Sentencing: Gov. Christie supports drug courts but more funding is needed. It is time to reduce prison entries for nonviolent offenders and revamp existing drug laws.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit: Gov. Christie should restore the credit to 25%.

  • Economy: Reduce wasteful subsidies to large corporations and invest more in good schools and a well-trained, highly-educated workforce.  

  • Education: Expand State-funded pre-school classes for needy kids and reduce inflated college costs.

  • Financial Assistance for Dreamers: The other half of the Dream Act.

  • Gun Control: The legislature should reintroduce bills vetoed by Gov. Christie.

  • GWB Scandal: Find out the truth behind the lane closures and reform the Port Authority.

  • Halfway Houses: Reform this system which is a bonanza for corporations and politicians but no help for inmates or the public.

  • Health Insurance & Medicaid: Provide education and assistance to assure more enrollment into better quality ACA insurance and into the expanded Medicaid program.

  • Housing: Gov. Christie should end his raiding and obstruction of the affordable housing program.

  • Infrastructure: New Jersey has about $70 billion worth of infrastructure work and the price tag will only increase if the state continues to put off making the needed improvements.

  • Marriage Equality: Continue discussion as to whether ME should be passed by the legislature, and create a veto-proof majority.

  • Millionaire Tax Surcharge: Implement this fair and essential method to increase needed state revenue.

  • Pinelands & Fracking: There should be no gas line through the Pinelands. There should be no fracking or transportation or disposal of its waste in NJ.

  • Property Tax: Encourage (and remove barriers to) consolidation and sharing services.

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Christie withdrew NJ from RGGI. It’s time to rejoin the initiative.

  • Retire Rep. Scott Garrett (CD 5): Will a worthy opponent please stand up.

  • Sandy Recovery: Start with transparency, bring an end to discrimination, assure financial aid to those most in need, strengthen the State-wide plan (including safe location for buses and trains) and insist on resiliency.

  • Solar Power: The administration should move forward with plans for offshore facilities.

  • Supreme Court Nominees: Christie has already placed two Republicans on the court. He should nominate a Democrat and grant tenure to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner or the Senate should continue ignoring his nominees.

  • Womens’ Healthcare: Gov. Christie should fund Planned Parenthood.

    Open thread: What is on your agenda for 2014?