Advocates Tell Lawmakers The Current Affordable Housing Process Works – Now Is Not The Time To Go Backwards​

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 15th, 2022

Contact:

Alex Staropoli, (914) 469-0060, alexstaropoli@fairsharehousing.org


Advocates Tell Lawmakers the Current Affordable Housing Process Works – Now is

Not the Time to Go Backwards

TRENTON–Today, during an Assembly Housing Committee hearing on the upcoming fourth round of Mount Laurel affordable housing obligations, advocates testified to the success of the current system and told lawmakers that to go back to a defunct system under the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) would be a mistake.

New Jersey is currently developing more affordable housing than ever before. This rate of development is directly tied to Mount Laurel enforcement,” said James Williams, Director of Racial Justice Policy for Fair Share Housing Center. “To go back to a dysfunctional system would be a mistake, and flies in the face of racial and social justice. Now, more than ever, New Jersey needs to accelerate affordable housing, not go back to a system riddled with politics and bureaucracy. New Jerseyans deserve more.”

New Jersey is facing a housing crisis fueled by exclusionary zoning, rising housing costs, and population growth. As a state, we do not have enough homes to meet the needs of our residents. Through the current court process, Fair Share Housing Center has settled more than 340 affordable housing cases with towns throughout the state. Even when COAH was functioning, it only ever fully reviewed plans for 138 towns—that’s less than half of what the court process has been able to accomplish. Fair Share Housing Center estimates that 50,000 affordable homes will be built as a result of the settlement agreements from this round.“

The Mount Laurel Doctrine is a critical tool to addressing residential segregation in New Jersey,” said Danielle Combs, Administrative Director at the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. “Segregation in New Jersey fuels racial disparities and harms communities of color. We should be focused on building inclusive communities, and the current process does just that. Affordable homes are being built in exclusively white towns for the very first time in our state’s history. We have the current enforcement process to thank for that, and we shouldn’t be entertaining a return to a system that will reverse this progress.”

Where one lives in inextricably linked to almost all indicators of health, well-being, and overall success. New Jersey’s hyper-segregated communities make it one of the worst states in the country for racial disparities across many indicators of health and wealth. 

COVID-19 and its impact on communities of color in New Jersey only made these disparities more apparent.

“If lawmakers are serious about addressing New Jersey’s racial disparities, they must be transparent about the systems that uphold inequity in our state,” said Racquel Romans Henry, Policy Director at Salvation and Social Justice. “Housing is central to individual and community health and well-being. Enforcement of the Mount Laurel Doctrine through the current process has secured access to safe, healthy, and affordable housing for thousands of families, at a time when the housing situation in New Jersey is dire. To even consider reverting to a system that produced no affordable housing for fifteen years is a slap in the face of justice.”

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Fair Share Housing Center is a nonprofit advocacy organization that uses legal, policy, and community-building strategies to dismantle decades of racial and economic discrimination in New Jersey and nationally that excludes people from the opportunity to live in safe, healthy, and affordable housing.

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