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Poll: Right Direction? Wrong Direction? No Direction? What's With COAH?

COAH has new rules, or does it? What's the next step for the Council on Affordable Housing?

Yesterday the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing held a public hearing on proposed new affordable housing regulations, which the state Supreme Court ordered.

The rules include a complicated methodology for determining how many affordable units municipalities need to provide to meet their obligation under the court's Mount Laurel rulings. Statewide, they would require the construction of an average of 4,200 affordable units a year through 2024, with about another 11,000 due to be built between 2024 and 2034. Almost 63,000 existing units would be rehabilitated over the same time period.

There are a number of other specific regulations about which people on both sides of the issue commented, including mandating that builders construct one affordable unit for every nine sold at market price -- compared with two affordable units for every eight market-priced -- and the lack of any requirement to build rental housing. Housing advocates urged the council to scrap the rules, while municipal representatives generally supported them.

What do you think the council should do?

  • Adopt the new rules. They lower housing obligations for many communities and I don't want to see additional development in my town. The state is crowded enough as it is.

  • Amend the rules. As written, they don't require rental units to be built, nor do they give municipalities credit for turning market-rate housing into affordable units, accessory apartments or providing supportive homes for the formerly homeless. And reducing the number of affordable units builders must construct in conjunction with market-rate housing will only mean it will take more development for a town to meet its obligation.

  • Scrap the rules. The Supreme Court ordered COAH to adopt new housing rules that are substantially similar to those used in the last round, which ended in 1999. These regulations don't even come close to meeting that mandate. They dramatically reduce the number of units that would have to be built compared with the prior round and even reduce the numbers that municipalities were supposed to have constructed but didn't. More than half the state's municipalities have no new obligation at all. That flies in the face of the Mount Laurel rulings.

  • COAH shouldn't even consider the published rules because it didn't vote on them. As published in the June 2 New Jersey Register, the wording of the housing regulations differs from what the council voted 5-1 to publish two months ago. Administration officials say the differences are not significant. Advocates disagree. COAH has no business moving forward on considering a rule that is not the same as the one it approved.

  • I have no idea. This is an extremely complicated and controversial issue that doesn't have an easy answer. I don't fully understand all the ramifications and I'm not sure all the council members -- who received the 200-plus page regulations just a day before they voted on them -- do either.

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