, N.J.
– New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin has issued the following statement on COAH’s Third Round Affordable Housing Rules:

“The Council on Affordable Housing is committed to increasing the production of affordable housing in New Jersey.  We strongly encourage municipalities and all sectors of the housing community to continue providing affordable housing as we move forward.

COAH’s number one priority is to ensure that affordable housing is protected and continues to be produced with as little disruption as possible.  COAH has met with over 60 housing advocates, planners, court masters, builders and municipal representatives in the last two weeks and has already begun to review their ideas to revise its rules to comply with the court ruling.

COAH will undertake rule-making in response to the Appellate Division’s opinion.  To ensure that the revised rules will be based on the best possible data and analysis, COAH is reaching out to experts and specialists in the fields of affordable housing, economics, demographics and planning.  Requests for proposals for consultants will be issued by Friday.

We are concerned that an unintended consequence of one aspect of the Appellate Division ruling, if allowed, will significantly delay the production of much needed affordable housing.

Municipal inclusionary housing ordinances, designed to ensure that affordable housing is produced as a town grows, and on the same site as market rate housing, have been adopted by a record number of over 120 municipalities as a result of COAH’s regulations.  The Appellate Division’s decision puts these municipal ordinances at risk.  For this reason, COAH has filed a request to the Appellate Division for a stay of its ruling with respect to this one matter, so that these municipal inclusionary ordinances are protected.

In a state as densely populated as New Jersey, with such little land for development, each day that market rate housing continues without affordable housing at its side is an irreparable loss.

In addition, the Appellate Division, in its decision of January 25th, suggested that developers be given special financial incentive to build affordable housing in an inclusionary zone.  This could result in an increase in property taxes and encourage sprawl.  For this reason, COAH today petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court to reaffirm the position it has taken in prior decisions over the past two decades, and reverse the Appellate division on this issue.

Changing the standard to require a municipality to grant developers additional financial incentives is simply wrong.

It is imperative that we keep working towards the construction of affordable housing throughout New Jersey.  This action by COAH keeps us on that path.”