Commissioner Grifa Addresses Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee
Provides Testimony on S-1 and Affordable Housing Reform

TRENTON - New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lori Grifa today testified before the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee regarding S-1 and Governor Christie's efforts to reform affordable housing. She encouraged state lawmakers to act quickly to pass this important legislation before June 30.

"The time has come to craft a meaningful solution to our State's affordable housing problem," said Commissioner Grifa. "In the past, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) has created a rigid, arcane and nearly unintelligible system that was virtually impossible to implement. The State dictated arbitrary quotas from Trenton with little success. The results were rarely certain and, as a consequence, there was a reluctance to build or approve the building or rehabilitation of housing."

"The Governor's goals are simple," Commissioner Grifa said. "First, end COAH and the madness of the arbitrary quota system that paid dividends to lawyers and planners, cost towns thousands of dollars, and stymied sensible growth. Second, empower municipalities to make their own decisions about land use and housing on a local level. Third, create clear guidelines for affordable housing that encourage achievable results."

S-1 would abolish COAH and reform how affordable housing is built by taking control from policy makers in Trenton and returning it to local municipal officials. Municipalities would have an obligation to set aside some of their new development for low and moderate-income housing, and towns that have complied with the existing regulations would be protected from builders' remedy lawsuits. State involvement would be limited to the DCA providing an acknowledgment to those municipalities seeking to be deemed inclusionary under the affordable housing standards set forth in the legislation.

"It is the belief of the Governor and I that exclusionary zoning is improper and no person should be denied access to safe and decent places to live anywhere in our great state," said Commissioner Grifa. "We are hopeful that as the legislative process draws to a close, the concepts we have reached agreement on get closer to becoming law."

Commissioner Grifa emphasized that time is of the essence.

"We are uniquely poised to address this conflicted issue, but time is precious," she said. "Further delay is unnecessary and puts real reform at risk."