A report from the fair share trial in Mercer County
Posted by Laura Denker on January 30th 2017
We had a great victory two weeks ago from the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Court’s unanimous decision requires municipalities to meet the needs of lower-income households that formed from 1999-2015. The Court rejected the municipalities’ cruel argument that they should be allowed to exclude tens of thousands of households.
But the municipalities’ efforts to exclude are not over. I write during a break in a months-long trial from the courthouse in Trenton, where Princeton, Lawrence, East Windsor, West Windsor and Hopewell Township are making novel arguments intended to get their housing obligations as low as possible. The municipalities’ expert, who is paid $375 per hour, just completed his testimony based on a report that he and his $425 per hour colleague prepared for the municipalities. These experts are the ones who argued that municipalities’ obligations should go down because half-million-dollar homes are “affordable” and that Princeton’s obligations should go down because Trenton has gotten poorer.
And we recently found out that the municipalities will present a witness, likely this week, who will argue that households with very low incomes should be excluded from fair share obligations. The expert claims that very-low income households comprising a quarter of lower-income households should be excluded because the private sector is unable to provide for them. This position ignores that New Jersey has long provided affordable homes for people with disabilities, and others who have very low incomes. Princeton, Lawrence, East Windsor, West Windsor, and Hopewell Township - and hundreds of other municipalities - have stooped low indeed in their efforts to exclude.
We are fighting back against this cruelty and exclusion. We have the better arguments. Our arguments are on the side of justice. The law is on our side. The facts are on our side too.
And so we should win.
But our pockets are not as deep as the municipalities, and it often takes money to achieve justice. Fair Share Housing Center is a small non-profit attempting to enforce the Mount Laurel doctrine against municipalities led by mayors and council members who often stake their political futures on people’s baser instincts and fears. They will spend taxpayers’ money on efforts to exclude because they think they will be reelected. They have the motive and the money.
This is what we are up against, and we need your support to overcome it. With a major victory at the Supreme Court, we now begin a new phase of our work. Nearly 100 towns have reached agreements with us guaranteeing the construction of thousands of homes for working families, people with disabilities and seniors. We need to continue that progress . Will you please support us and help us overcome cruelty and exclusion?
If so, please donate here: http://fairsharehousing.org/donate/ . We will win this fight with your support.