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Governor Phil Murphy

Governor Murphy Signs Landmark Affordable Housing Legislation


Bill Revamps Process for Municipalities to Meet Their Mount Laurel Obligations in Most Significant Housing Legislation in Four Decades

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed landmark affordable housing legislation to support towns in meeting their affordable housing obligations, building on his administration’s promise to create a stronger, fairer, and more affordable state for all New Jerseyans. The legislation develops a new system for municipalities to meet their Mount Laurel affordable housing obligations, replacing the current process that exists entirely in the courts.

“One of our Administration’s top priorities has been to establish New Jersey as a national leader in expanding affordable housing,” said Governor Murphy. “With today’s bill signing, we will be able to create more certainty and lower costs in New Jersey’s affordable housing landscape. By establishing new processes and practices for towns to meet their Mount Laurel affordable housing obligations, we are able to more quickly and efficiently allocate funding to municipalities and support those building affordable housing in our state. I am proud that my Administration and the Legislature have enacted a coherent and workable framework that no longer leaves this issue exclusively to the courts.”

The primary bill, A-4/S-50 (Lopez, Coughlin, Wimberly, Reynolds-Jackson/Singleton, Scutari, Ruiz), establishes a new, streamlined framework for determining and enforcing municipalities’ affordable housing obligations under the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel doctrine and the State’s Fair Housing Act. Starting with the compliance period that begins in 2025, the Department of Community Affairs will publish non-binding calculations of municipalities’ current and prospective need for affordable housing using a formula based on prior court decisions. Disputes about municipalities’ affordable housing obligations and plans to meet those obligations will be resolved on an expedited basis by the Judiciary with assistance from a new dispute resolution program. 

This process will replace the role previously played by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), which has been defunct for over a decade and is formally abolished under this bill. The new process will streamline compliance and reduce litigation-related delays to the construction of new affordable housing and will give municipalities and developers more certainty, which will enable smarter planning around where housing should be built.

As part of this process, the bill contains provisions outlining how municipalities may receive “bonus credits” that allows units of affordable housing to be credited as 1.5 or 2 units in certain circumstances. This bonus credit system incentivizes age-restricted housing, housing set aside for individuals with special needs, and other location or purpose-specific housing projects, such as housing near mass transit stations. The bill caps the use of bonus credit units at 25% of a municipality’s prospective need obligations and establishes related parameters for how much of a municipality’s obligations must be satisfied through housing available to families with children and through rental housing.

Additional bills signed today include:

  1. ACS for A-2267/SCS for S-1415 (Lopez, Quijano/Singleton, Stack), which requires the New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency to establish a pilot program to support insurance premiums for eligible affordable housing projects constructed by for-profit affordable housing developers.
  2. S-1422/A-3365 (Singleton, Turner/Lopez, Speight, Calabrese), which allows taxpayers to accelerate depreciation of eligible property expenditures in connection with construction of new affordable housing developments in order to realize cost savings.
  3. A-2296/S-2309 (Lopez, Wimberly/McKnight, Stack), which allows a municipal governing body to delegate to the municipal clerk the authority to issue certain approvals to facilitate development of affordable housing projects.
  4. A-3337/S-2312 (Wimberly, Reynolds-Jackson, Quijano/Stack, Singleton), which permits “payment in lieu of taxation” (PILOT) agreements between municipalities and affordable housing projects that receive funding through the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund or municipal affordable housing trust funds.
  5. A-1495/S-1484 (Karabinchak, Lopez, Swain/Lagana, Diegnan), which exempts receipts from sales made to contractors or repairmen of materials, supplies, or services related to the construction of 100%-affordable housing projects in order to help reduce costs for the construction of such projects.

“Affordability has been the cornerstone of the efforts we have taken in the Legislature to address the challenges our residents face every day,” said Senate President Nicholas Scutari. “This initiative will allow us to develop additional affordable housing in New Jersey and make the system more workable. These bills make real progress in making housing more accessible and affordable for residents in communities throughout the state.” 
“At this critical juncture in New Jersey, with soaring housing prices and limited housing stock, this legislation is essential," said Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. "It will expedite the construction of affordable housing near transit hubs, generating more jobs. Furthermore, by streamlining the process for municipalities with clear guidance and deadlines, we aim to make fulfilling affordable housing obligations less daunting while effectively addressing the state's affordable housing shortage.”

“Housing is the most basic of human needs, and without first securing that need, other policies that we implement cannot be as effective. The Governor’s signing of S-50 puts us on a pathway to more success in the next round of affordable housing obligations, with clearer guidance for municipalities and a reduction of legal disputes that can allow those obligations to be fulfilled faster,” said Senate Majority Whip and Chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee Senator Troy Singleton. “The continued enforcement of the Mount Laurel Doctrine and the associated construction of affordable housing benefits everybody. It creates jobs and stimulates economic growth, while manageable rents give working families financial flexibility. Housing stability removes barriers to accessing better education and work opportunities. Most importantly, the availability of affordable housing helps to ensure that the next generation grows up in stable homes and safe environments.”

“Families should not have to contend with uncertainty as to where they will be able to find a home, or whether they will be able to afford a future rent increase,” said Senator Angela McKnight. “Unfortunately, years of neglect have led to a massive shortage of affordable rental and homeownership opportunities. It will take time, but these reforms would put us on a path to reversing that shortage and reducing the barriers to affordable housing production.”

“These efforts would enable the faster production of affordable housing and faster fulfillment of local affordable housing obligations,” said Senator Brian Stack. “Giving municipalities a more streamlined process, aligning our tax system with our housing production goals, and taking a regional approach to our affordable housing challenges will put a system in place that is best equipped to reverse the growing trend of unaffordability.”

“We have an obligation to expand opportunities and make housing more affordable in our state,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “When more families are secure in homes of their own, they contribute to their communities and our economy thrives. This legislation strikes the right balance in incentivizing opportunity and providing support for municipalities.” 

"A house is much more than four walls and a roof, it is a place where cherished memories are made, an asset that creates generational wealth and a structure upon which a great quality of life can be built," said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez. “The signing of A4 will allow more hard working families to have access to affordable housing and ahead of the 4th Round offers a pathway for municipality's to deliver on their constitutional obligations within a consistent and uniform process for decades to come. The signing of this bill will allow more New Jerseyans to move into, stay and thrive in the communities they love."

“These bills being signed into law today will address the housing needs of numerous New Jersey residents, spanning from the youngest children to the eldest seniors,” said Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly. “A3337 streamlines the process for towns to build or preserve certain affordable housing units by exempting them from property taxation. Instead, a municipality and housing sponsor may negotiate a payment in lieu of taxation (PILOT), contributing funds toward crucial services like garbage collection, road upkeep, schools, and other essential town services."

“Empowering New Jersey residents is at heart of our efforts to create more affordable housing in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Robert J. Karabinchak. “By making materials associated with the construction of affordable housing tax exempt, A1495 is mitigating the cost for developers and subsequently lowering the costs for New Jerseyans renting or owning their places of residence.”

"This law marks a significant change for the better. It's about ensuring that finding a good, affordable home is no longer a struggle. We are united in this effort to transform our state, our county, our city into a place where everyone can live well and have equal opportunities to thrive. Thank you, Governor and legislative leaders, for helping our families move towards a future where prosperity is accessible to all. Thank you for turning this historic day into reality,” said City of Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin Caba.

“The signing of today’s bill package shows the commitment of Governor Murphy and state legislators to build more affordable housing in New Jersey. These new laws will promote the construction and preservation of affordable housing and enable working families to find affordable homes in good communities where they can live and raise a family,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Jacquelyn A. Suárez. “It has long been DCA’s mission to create affordable housing for New Jersey residents and we look forward to the opportunities the new laws present to further this goal. The Department is proud to be a part of such a noble pursuit and we will conduct our work to the best of our ability to make New Jersey a place where people from all walks of life can thrive.”

"The housing bills being signed today are the culmination of months of comprehensive, statewide focus on affordable housing. These significant updates to New Jersey housing policy reflect a clear understanding by all involved of the importance of affordable housing to our shared future," said NJHMFA Executive Director Melanie Walter. “As allocator of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and administrator of numerous landmark housing developments programs, NJHMFA stands ready to help every community produce the housing needed to ensure that all New Jersey residents have access to safe, affordable homes.”

“This new law will help tear down the walls that have denied too many access to opportunity and create new affordable homes near jobs, schools, and transportation,” said Adam Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Share Housing Center. “By making compliance with New Jersey’s landmark Mount Laurel Doctrine simpler and clearer, we will build affordable homes faster with less cost to everyone involved. It’s good news for families across the state who are struggling to keep up with the soaring cost of housing. We commend Governor Murphy and the legislative sponsors - Chairs Singleton and Lopez, Speaker Coughlin, and Senate President Scutari - for making this best-in-the-nation legislation the law of our state."

"Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women and their children,” said Cierra Hart, Director of Housing and Economic Justice at the NJ Coalition to End Domestic Violence. “Affordable housing serves as a catalyst for breaking the cycle of violence and abuse. It offers survivors the stability necessary to access crucial support services — therapeutic interventions, legal aid, counseling — that are indispensable in their journey to recovery.”

"This new law will create much-needed access to housing in the middle of a historic housing crisis. It will help overcome the deep segregation that has plagued our state for decades," said Richard Smith, President of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. "I particularly want to thank lawmakers for adding stronger deed restrictions to this legislation, which will protect the affordability of newly-built homes for decades to come.”

“We want to thank Governor Murphy for signing the affordable housing packages bill into law today. This legislation will strengthen the implementation of the Mount Laurel Doctrine and help ensure that New Jersey municipalities create their fair share of affordable housing,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director for New Jersey Citizen Action. 

“This legislation positions New Jersey to create opportunities for every household in the state to thrive by creating a clear process to ensure all municipalities create their fair share of affordable housing,” said Taiisa Kelly, CEO of Monarch Housing Associates. “We at Monarch believe Housing is a Human Right and this legislation sets the stage to ensure every New Jersey resident has access to the housing they so critically need, in every community across the state, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.”

"This legislation will help provide a lot more clarity and transparency in the affordable housing development process," said Javier Robles, President of the Latino Action Network. "Skyrocketing housing costs are making it extremely difficult for many hard-working people and vulnerable communities — including seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers — to keep a roof over their heads. This legislation will help ensure access to affordable, accessible, and livable homes, which not only improve the lives of residents but also benefit society."

"Over the course of New Jersey’s history, fair housing policies have been integral in making our state more inclusive," said Jesselly de la Cruz, Executive Director of the Latino Action Network Foundation. "It is encouraging that residents, advocates and policymakers from across our state are joining forces to break down racial and economic exclusion by strengthening the Mount Laurel Doctrine."