January 18, 2017 - The New Jersey Supreme Court decision today in In re Declaratory Judgment Actions Filed by Various Municipalities, County of Ocean is a victory for the inclusion of households of all income levels in our communities. "There is no fair reading of this Court's prior decisions that supports disregarding the constitutional obligation to address pent-up affordable housing need for low- and moderate-income households that formed during the years in which COAH was unable to promulgate valid Third Round rules," the Court held.
The American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter (APA-NJ), New Jersey Future, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Court to decline the municipalities' invitation to ignore the needs of families who had been left without viable housing options during the long "gap period" when affordable housing rules were not enforced. The brief outlines the challenges these families faced, including paying most of their income in rent, meaning that they had to sacrifice other essentials; doubling up with other households; being excluded from high-opportunity communities with good schools, jobs, and transportation networks; and in the most extreme cases, joining the growing ranks of the homeless.
"We were gratified to see the Court reaffirm the state constitutional obligation to make New Jersey's communities accessible to all kinds of families," said Catherine Weiss, Chair of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler and author of the amicus brief. "It is long past time when we should have achieved the economic and racial integration that is the promise of the Mount Laurel decisions."
"Perhaps New Jersey can finally get on with the essential work of ensuring a diverse and affordable housing stock for one of the most diverse states in the nation. Only good can come from that," said Charles Latini, President of the APA-NJ. "This decision will help families who are still struggling to emerge from the recession, the foreclosure crisis, and the displacements caused by Superstorm Sandy," added Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "The decision is also a boon for the State's economy. Everyone benefits when our neighbors have more money to spend on the things they need beyond housing, when working people can find homes near their jobs, and when families with children can move to communities with schools that fit their needs," said Peter Kasabach, Executive Director of New Jersey Future.
Peter Kasabach, Executive Director, New Jersey Future, 609-954-7422
Staci Berger, President and Chief Executive Officer, Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey, 732-406-7604
Charles Latini Jr., President, American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter, 212-203-5137
Catherine Weiss, Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler, 973-597-2438
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