A proposal that would change the way affordable housing has been handled for 25 years in New Jersey is being considered by a Senate committee this morning. The bill would transfer control of affordable housing from the state to municipalities and fold the Council on Affordable Housing into the State Planning Commission. No action will be taken today. New Jersey’s current approach to affordable housing stems from a 1975 state Supreme Court ruling involving Mt. Laurel township that said every resident was entitled to access to affordable housing under the state constitution. A decade later, the state passed the Fair Housing Act and created the Council on Affordable Housing to implement policy. Critics say the models that determine how much affordable housing a town needs to allow to be built are outdated.
Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), the bill’s sponsor, said he hasn’t found anyone who likes the council, known as COAH.
“It’s not COAH’s fault,” he said. “The system was just set up incorrectly. It can’t work.”
Low-income housing advocates say the bill would revert New Jersey to the way things were before the Mt. Laurel decision.
“It’s short sighted. It’s narrow minded,” said Joseph Picard, spokesman for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “We need to be thinking in terms of building housing near jobs and transportation.” Star Ledger.