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Assembly Approves Legislation to Expand Affordable Housing in New Jersey

Package of Bills Received Widespread Support from Advocates

The New Jersey General Assembly today advanced six bills to support affordable housing in New Jersey, including A4, which would rehaul the process of determining constitutionally mandated affordable housing obligations, giving municipalities greater flexibility and input.

Under the legislation, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs would calculate municipal housing obligations under a newly established statutory formula. The legislation would reduce costly delays and minimize litigation, and offer municipalities protection from builder’s remedy lawsuits. Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly sponsored the bill.

“We have a moral obligation to make sure everyone can find affordable housing in our state,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This bill, which addresses one of the biggest affordability problems in our state, will help our residents stay in the Garden State.”

“We want people to stay and thrive in New Jersey and having access to affordable housing is key to that goal,” said Assemblywoman Lopez (D-Middlesex). “A4 offers a pathway for our municipal partners to deliver on their constitutional obligations with a consistent and uniform process that empowers them to build the housing required of them in a manner they see fit.”

For the previous decade, confusion about how much housing needs to be built has led to litigation, wasting taxpayer resources and resulting in significant delays in the ability to build housing. Under A4, the defunct Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), would be abolished, and disputes about how much and where new housing is to be built would be resolved first before a panel of experts.

“New Jersey residents are counting on us, so casting a YES vote, for this bill was important not just for my district, but the whole state,” said Assemblyman Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “This bill will address the housing needs of so many New Jerseyans – from the youngest of children to the oldest of seniors. Young families should be able to access affordable, safe housing as they establish their roots and raise their children, and seniors should be able to retire in the community they’ve always known.”

“We know children raised in stable environments are more likely to succeed in school and in their future endeavors,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “It is our responsibility to ensure that they, along with their families, have the chance to flourish within their community without the constant fear of losing their home.”

Additional affordable housing bills approved today include:

  • A1495 exempts receipts from sales of materials, supplies, and services for certain affordable housing projects from sales and use tax.
  • A2296 permits municipality to authorize municipal clerk to submit certain written statements concerning affordable housing.
  • A2390 requires municipalities in compliance with affordable housing obligations be provided priority considering for certain State grants and assistance.
  • A3128 authorizes the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to issue tax credits for certain purposes.
  • A3337 allows projects supported by State or municipal affordable housing trust fund to be exempt from property tax and to instead contribute to municipal services by making payments in lieu of taxation.