Lawmakers tackle NJ’s affordable housing issues

A bill that would overhaul the system advances in Senate committee

“We are still roughly 200,000 units short on the needed number of affordable apartments in our state,” said Sen. Troy Singleton, chair of the Senate Urban and Community Affairs Committee, which got back to work Thursday on a package of bills that address the need for more affordable housing in New Jersey.

The most controversial bill (S-50) would abolish the now-defunct COAH, the Council on Affordable Housing, that was created in 1985 in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel decision. That decision required each municipality to ensure a certain percentage of their housing options are affordable. COAH has overseen those municipal plans, but under this bill, oversight would move to the Department of Community Affairs.

“We are glad to see this legislation move forward today because we think this is the best way we have seen to make sure that everybody who wants to live in a community has the ability to do that,” said Staci Berger, the president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

The bill moved out of committee, along party lines. Singleton (D-Burlington) said more work will be done on the bill before it reaches the governor’s desk.

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