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Watson Coleman: Not Giving Towns Guidance on Affordable Housing Funds Set Them Up for Failure

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, questioned the Department of Community Affair’s (DCA) decision making process during Thursday’s budget committee hearing on the governor’s recent raid of municipal affordable housing funds:

“As a sponsor of the law (A-500), I believed there was an expectation that guidance would be given to communities as to how to appropriately obligate and spend their money; yet none was given.
“The DCA apparently considered issuing regulations to better guide municipalities, but then decided against them. Conveniently, because of pending legislation, the department cannot explain why it opted against the regulations, but the sudden change of heart sure served the governor well, even if it now hinders communities in need, including municipalities severely affected by Sandy.
“Towns have been looking for direction while COAH was shut down. All COAH did was wake up from a very long sleep, have a meeting and then attempt to grab millions of dollars that should be spent to create more affordable housing options in one of the most expensive states in the country.
“I don’t see that we did anything to help municipalities. I don’t understand why we pulled back these regulations, other than to give the governor the opportunity to use these funds to plug budget holes, which is not the way he said he would solve the problems facing the state.”