Tag Archive: Fair Share Housing

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.

Flip Flops on the beach, Not on the Senate Floor

The override vote on Senate President Sweeney’s “Sandy Bill of Rights” originally planned for tomorrow’s Senate session has been postponed. Chris Donnelly from Sweeney’s office explains, “We are postponing the override vote on the bill of rights until the 19th as a couple of our members are unable to attend this Thursday’s voting session.”

We only need about three Republican votes to override Governor Christie’s veto. No Republican Senator voted against the original bill. In fact they applauded it. Now Republican Senators are reneging on their vote and refusing to override. They have circled the corral, protecting Governor Christie, and ignoring the clamors of Sandy victims. “Flip flops belong on the shore, not on the Sandy Bill of Rights,” as Fair Share Housing says.  

NJ Spotlight explains, The measure would simplify the application process for Sandy recovery programs, require “plain language” explanations to storm survivors of their status, and give people greater rights to appeal if they’re denied funding.

An Asbury Park editorial points out, “Christie is embarrassed by the accusations of state mismanagement of Sandy aid programs and has tried to lay the blame elsewhere. He doesn’t want a Sandy Bill of Rights because it implies there’s a need for reform.” The bill might benefit from minor changes to assure it does not conflict with federal law. Nonetheless, the root of the problem is Christie’s mismanagement of Sandy recovery, culminating  in a recent court settlement requiring him to target Sandy funds to hardest hit communities, addressing language barriers in recovery programs, and helping renters and homeowners left out of recovery to date.

The bill remains of paramount importance as a means to assure that past failures are not continued and that the needs of Sandy victims are addressed appropriately. Constituents, particularly those who have Republican legislators, should write, call, email or meet them. Conceivably some minor changes in the bill, particularly in regard to federal law, might assuage some Republicans. Either way, what is important is the continuing need of those affected by Sandy not the need of a failing governor.

NJ GOP is not stronger than Superstorm Christie

Next Thursday June 12th the legislature plans to try a veto override of Christie’s CV of the ‘Sandy Bill of Rights.’ Here’s why it matters. And what you can do – right now. Cross-posted at Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

DropDead (new Chris Christie version)For those readers old enough to remember, this image is a parody of the fierce reaction to President Gerald Ford’s infamous but false response to NY City’s 1970’s financial crisis. Even though he never said those words, he might as well have because his reaction to the city’s request for financial help was part of his political undoing.

My point is not to rehash what happened 40 years ago so, gentle readers, please limit your comments to current events. If you want the back story, read this NY Times piece. In a nutshell it was a classic case of liberal vs. conservative values locked in a game of Chicken. The only difference is that unlike many of today’s elected officials, both sides blinked: they came together and worked it out.  

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.  


Outside the Courthouse in Trenton Today

As Bill laid out this morning, today is a key moment in the timeline of the investigation of the political ramifications of the sudden lane closures and 5-day traffic chaos last September. This morning, as the proceeding began, Judge Mary Jacobson called it what most New Jerseyans do by now: “the Bridgegate controversy”. Arguments are still going on inside the courtroom. This was the scene outside the courthouse:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Participants include the following: AFTNJ, NAACP,  Justice at Stake, NJEA, Health Professionals & Allied Employees, PFANJ, NJ Citizen Action, Working Families Alliance, Lambda Legal, Latino Action Network, Fair Share Housing, CWA, 1199 SEIU, 32 BJ, NJ United Students, and IFPTE.

The outcome of these proceedings may have tremendous impact on the ability of the people’s elected representatives – the investigative panel led by John Wisniewski and Loretta Weinberg – to find out who was ultimately responsible for what appears to be a massive misuse of government power and risk to public safety when the lanes were closed without warning or timehonored professional procedure, as well as possible cover-up, and motive. For the two Christie advisors whose lawyers are making their case inside (which just ended now after more than 3 hours) much is at stake, too. They both may know a great deal, and their own futures are at stake.

But there are larger questions at stake too, to protect the independence and integrity of NJ’s judiciary system, which is why all those people showed up outside the courthouse today. That’s my next post.

Photos: Rob Duffey, Hetty Rosenstein and Ann Vardeman.

Deconstructing Christie’s 1st Post-Scandal “Town Hall”: Fair Share Housing’s Adam Gordon on MSNBC

Just a few weeks ago, Chris Christie was still riding high off well-received response to the devastation in his state of an awful hurricane that destroyed the shore of New Jersey, which is both a source of revenue for the state and hundreds of small businesses, and also its emotional heart. The Jersey Shore, where rain and wind left families homeless, boardwalks ripped and a summer showplace needing to recover. To anybody watching him on TV, his pitch was perfect then. He was sleepless governor, rushing to comfort old ladies and scared little kids, too busy to change out of his storm fleece, an equal measure of get-it-done

determination, promises, and real empathy.

This is the kind of thing you can build a White House run on, and he was well on his way to doing that. And then came complaints from some of those same Sandy victims, evidence that Sandy funds were diverted away from qualifying families, discrimination was in play. And thereafter, emails and texts that tied scandals right into his inner office.

Yesterday, Christie returned to comfortable ground with his first town hall since watching his poll numbers plummet. Covering it, New York Times and Charles Stile both picked up the same

Heck of a Job, Christie!

promoted by Rosi

Today, the Christie Administration announced its plan for the next $1.4 billion in Sandy funds. The bottom line: the recovery from Sandy is apparently, in the Governor’s mind, going so well, that it’s time to double down on the same strategy!

The plan, released today, keeps going on the same strategy that led to 75% of people impacted by Sandy saying the Administration does not care about people like them.

The plan opens a 30-day comment period, with public hearings next week in Newark, Middletown, and Galloway. These hearings are good opportunities to voice the widespread dissatisfaction with Sandy recovery to date – there is a sign up in advance to speak.

The details below the fold…

The $70 million mirage

We at Fair Share Housing Center had to sue the Christie Administration in order to get basic information about how they are spending billions in federal aid on Sandy. It took four months from filing an Open Public Records Act request to finally getting the information, which, when finally released, raised serious questions about the fairness of the process for allocating Sandy funds.

So it was to our great interest to see the Christie Administration all of the sudden claiming to be VERY transparent about one aspect of those funds – how much money was going to Hoboken – they said $70 million. Obviously, they were motivated to do so by Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s claim on national television of threats to not provide Sandy aid unless a development was approved. For the record, we know nothing about those claims and are not in a position to evaluate them.

But we ARE in a position to evaluate the Christie Administration’s $70 million claim. And it’s shockingly misleading and off the mark.

More below the fold…

What’s Happening Today Fri. 12/13/2013


A Bombshell Revelation of a Coverup in the Making: The Wall Street Journal reports that “Gov. Christie complained in a private phone call to Gov. Cuomo that NY/NJ Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee was cut from three to one in early September.”

OMG! Given all the damage done and the involvement of his own appointees, it is Christie who should be pressing hard to get to the bottom of the matter. Of course, Christie might already know or suspect exactly what happened and realizes the truth can only hurt him. He is not known for fostering transparency or admitting errors. Our former Federal Attorney in this case is actually reported in the act of trying to hide the facts and impede an investigation. The smoking gun in a coverup? Is this Watergate all over again?

SANDY GATE (Continued)

Fair Share Housing: Data it obtained through litigation with the Christie Administration and reviewed by the NAACP and Latino Action Network reveal, “African Americans and Latinos were rejected at higher rates for Federal Sandy relief funds. Also the administration provided misinformation on the Spanish version of the www.renewjerseystronger.org website, failing to inform many Latinos of options to appeal rejections and other key information. A summary of the data and charts is here.

New Jersey NAACP Housing Chair Mike McNeil stated, “Governor Christie made his appeal for funds to the federal government with a promise to help everyone equally. When African Americans are rejected at a rate two and a half times that of whites, we at the NAACP believe it is grounds for an investigation into the overall process and functionality of these programs.” A summary of the data and charts is here. Kudos to Fair Share for its excellent job of investigating Sandy Relief funds.

We have not yet heard the end of how the administration mismanage its task, misspent funds, discriminated against groups, and favored contractors (including AshBritt) which made political contributions. Then using federal funds Christie suffused the whole operation with the false glow of “Stronger Than the Storm” featuring himself in the ads while he was running an election campaign. Let’s not forget that in April “Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill requiring oversight of billions of dollars in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy, despite Democratic objections, calling the measure redundant and wasteful.” It is becoming increasingly apparent that it is our Governor who is “redundant, wasteful” and worse.

What’s Happening Today Fri. 09/27/2013

A sigh of relief and a reminder: Fair Share Housing, ACLU, NAACP, and other groups are breathing a sigh of relief today over the NJ Supreme Court’s ruling on affordable housing. However, there may be more rulings on the matter, and certainly there will be further decisions passed down on other issues important to progressives. The court’s housing opinion is a reminder that if Chris Christie is re-elected as Governor he will try hard (and in all likelihoodl succeed) in packing the court with his supporters, at which point the results will not be pretty.

Independent expenditures: There has been no such funding this month in support of Cory Booker, who is well heeled. There has been about $38,000 spent both in support of Steve Lonegan and in opposition to Cory Booker – from the Conservative Campaign Committee and American Commitment. A 24-hour FEC notiification process is now in effect, so we will learn immediately about new contributions going directly to the two candidates and their committees.    

Will the real Chris Christie please stand up: Christie has been all over the map on the issue of shutting down the government. In the past he has said,”If a State Government shutdown occurred over the budget he would “go to the Governor’s Mansion, order a pizza, open a beer, and turn on the Mets game. Then tell lawmakers to call him when they were ready.” More recently he shrugged off a question about Rand Paul’s desire to shut down the government, but would take no position. Now in response to a CBS reporter who asked him whether government should be shut down, he called such action “Irresponsible…a failure.” Who knows what his position will be in the future.

Public Schedules:

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: 7:30pm, Barbara Buono: Irvington NAACP Candidate Forum, Greater New Point Baptist Church, 60 Paine Ave, Irvington.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 10:45am, San Vito Pizzeria, Bayonne; 4:00pm, groundbreaking for the Campus Town development at The College of New Jersey,  2000 Pennington Road, Ewing. (You can join protesters opposed to fracking at the rally in Ewing.) Kim Guadagno: 3:00pm, attends a general meeting at the Ecuadorian Consulate, Newark.

Open thread: Add an event taking place today of interest to our readers, or email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com