LETTER Ciattarelli Bill Package Revises State’s Affordable Housing Procedure

 Assembly Republican Jack Ciattarelli sponsors a comprehensive package of bills reforming the standards for affordable housing in New Jersey. The bills are sensitive to the impact of affordable housing obligations on municipalities and taxpayers while ensuring there is adequate supply of affordable units. The five-bill package is the result of collaboration between state, county and municipal officials.


“Working with local elected leaders from both sides of the aisle and their respective municipal experts, we have crafted a realistic and viable legislative solution to address affordable housing,” said Ciattarelli.  “This legislative solution gives the Legislature the opportunity to move forward with bipartisan consensus to accomplish what the Supreme Court invited us to do.”


The New Jersey Supreme Court’s unanimous March 10th decision concerning third-round regulations and municipal fair-share housing obligations is of significant concern to municipalities.  The Supreme Court, in rendering its decision, added that the state Legislature may come up with a new affordable housing law.  Enacting a new law is much preferred to trial courts ruling on a case-by-case basis how many homes should be made available to low- and moderate-income residents in each municipality.


Ciattarelli’s most significant measure is A-4632, which reforms the State’s affordable housing laws, and simplifies the mechanisms for determining compliance with the “Fair Housing Act.” (FHA). This legislation codifies the dissolution of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) established pursuant to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and transfers responsibility for FHA administration to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA).


“Recognizing that comprehensive reform is needed for the efficient creation of responsible housing alternatives – both market rate and affordable units – this package is multi-pronged,” Ciattarelli said. “It gives municipalities various practical tools to effectively adhere to the new rules set forth by the Supreme Court. I look forward to working with colleagues in the legislature and the League of Municipalities to perfect and advance this package of bills.”


Other bills include:


A-4657 – This bill refines the procedure established by the New Jersey Supreme Court in its March 2015 opinion concerning the role of the courts and the Council on Affordable Housing. Supreme Court gave municipalities that were under COAH’s jurisdiction but did not receive substantive certification, five months to prepare and file a housing element and fair share plan with a trial judge. A-4657 eliminates any possibility that a trial judge would interpret the court opinion to require the five-month period to commence before such time as the trial judge has established the criteria and guidelines.


A-4534 – This bill authorizes the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, to undertake the task of calculating current, objective, and reliable State-wide, regional, and individual municipal needs for affordable housing.


A-4535 – Revises the “Fair Housing Act, to authorize COAH regulations based on the “growth share” methodology and relieve municipalities of the unnecessary cost of changing or defending their adopted Fair Share Plans and Housing Elements.


A-4447 – Establishes specific criteria for an affirmative defense for municipalities facing legal action to mandate additional affordable housing units through a “builder’s remedy.”


On the bills, Ciattarelli is joined by sponsors Assemblywoman Donna Simon, and Assemblymen Dave Rible, Sean Kean, and Greg McGuckin.