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Poll: What’s the Best Course of Action When It Come to the COAH Cash?

Should the governor be allowed to use affordable-housing funds to plug a hole in the budget?

Last Thursday, New Jersey's courts told the Christie administration that it could not take as much as $200 million in municipal affordable-housing funds.

That was a blow to Gov. Chris Christie's battle against the Fair Housing Act that specifies the state's response to the Supreme Court's Mount Laurel rulings, which require all municipalities provide their fair share of affordable housing.

It was also a blow to his battle to balance the state budget.

The Fair Housing Act specifies that municipal trust funds unspent or uncommitted after four years revert to the state's trust to be used to build affordable units within the same region. Christie wanted the municipal funds to replace other money in the state trust, which would then help plug the budget gap. Municipalities and housing advocates argued he shouldn't take the money because the state Council on Affordable Housing had never promulgated the required rules governing the spending of the money.

What do you think of this decision?

  • The judges were correct. New Jersey desperately needs more affordable housing. Despite the Mount Laurel rulings and FHA, little has been built over the past 15 years due to the inability of COAH -- under both Christie and former governors -- to follow the court's decisions and adopt appropriate housing quotas for all municipalities. Give towns clear direction and they will use the money productively.

  • The state should not be able to take the money now. However, once the courts set housing needs, they must see that the municipalities use it to actually build units that those with low and moderate incomes can afford.

  • It's clear that many municipalities want to continue to try to exclude people of limited means; that's why so much has gone unspent. The state should be able to take that money but only to use to build affordable housing throughout the state. It was meant for that purpose and must be used as such.

  • New Jersey's courts need to stop legislating. The governor has to balance the budget. The money has gone unspent for four years and the law allows him to take it. He should be able to use it as it is most needed. We have to fund the pensions and balance the budget.

  • I'm not sure. I don't know enough about this issue.

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