Fair Share Housing Center

Blog

Assemblyman Green Joins with Housing Advocates to Announce Housing Opportunities Coming to Union Co

Posted by Laura Denker on February 15th 2017

Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), the Chairman of the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee, together with the Fair Share Housing Center, the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, is proud to highlight initiatives taken by seven Union County municipalities to expand access to homes affordable to working and moderate-income families.

For more than a decade, the Legislature, with the leadership of Assemblyman Green, has stood firm against proposals meant to undermine New Jersey’s commitment to fair housing. Following the failure of the Council on Affordable Housing to comply with those laws, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued decisions requiring municipalities to meet their fair housing obligations under the Mount Laurel doctrine under the supervision of the state’s trial courts.

Aided by a series of strong laws that have remained on the books, Fair Share has worked with seven Union County municipalities to implement fair share plans that establish fair housing obligations of more than 2,000 homes. These plans focus on revitalizing the county’s historic downtown areas, increasing transit access and promoting the redevelopment of vacant office parks, strip malls and industrial centers into vibrant new communities.

“Homes in New Jersey cost too much, and I am proud that so many Union County municipalities have stepped up to the plate to provide opportunities for lower-income New Jerseyans,” Assemblyman Green said. “Encouraging redevelopment is good for towns and good for working folks and people with disabilities.

Taxpayers overwhelmingly support New Jersey’s fair housing laws and don’t want their money wasted on fighting those laws. I am proud to have stood strong against attacks of the landmark Mount Laurel doctrine. Our support of New Jersey families is now paying off with agreements that will lead to the development of tens of thousands of new homes throughout the state. I am particularly pleased that towns in Union County have led the way in reaching fair settlements that put plans in place to expand opportunities in Central Jersey.”

Seven towns in Union County currently have agreements in place resolving their housing obligations: Berkeley Heights, Clark, Fanwood, New Providence, Roselle Park, Springfield and Summit. Several additional municipalities are in active negotiations with housing advocates and are expected to soon announce settlements.

Together, the seven municipalities are working with for-profit developers on projects to fight blight through redevelopment. They are also partnering with non-profits to provide homes for people with disabilities.

“Many municipalities in New Jersey support our state’s fair housing laws,” said Kevin D. Walsh, Executive Director of the Fair Share Housing Center. “A growing consensus is now solidifying among municipalities that they can and should meet their fair housing obligations. Assemblyman Green and the Legislature have shown strong leadership in standing by working families, seniors, and people with disabilities so that good homes are provided throughout our state in all communities.”

“Non-profits around the state are working with local municipal officials and residents to make sure that their communities meet their responsibilities and create homes that people can afford,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

“In Summit, for example, non-profit developers won a commitment to include 50 homes around the community; this is a model that can be used in other towns that integrate new homes in neighborhoods. We are proud to work with Assemblyman Green and others in the Legislature to ensure that all residents can afford to call New Jersey home.”

Assemblyman Green also believes that January’s unanimous ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court affirming municipalities’ fair housing obligations will lead to additional settlements throughout the state and create more much-needed homes.

“The recent Supreme Court victory is a pivotal moment in the fight for access to opportunity for everyone in our state,” said Richard T. Smith, President of the New Jersey NAACP. “Despite being one of the most diverse states in the country, restrictive zoning laws have long excluded African American and Latino families from moving into certain communities. As a longtime champion of minority and working families, we look forward to continuing to advance an opportunity agenda in partnership with Assemblyman Green.”

In addition to leading the fight to protect the Mount Laurel doctrine, Assemblyman Green also sponsored landmark legislation in 2008 that prevented a small group of wealthy towns from avoiding meeting their fair housing obligations by paying for minimal improvements to existing homes in urban areas through the use of Regional Contribution Agreements.

“Our work prohibiting additional RCAs laid the groundwork for the successes we are seeing in the ongoing fair housing process,” Assemblyman Green explained. “RCAs were the wrong approach to fair housing and I will not support calls to bring them back. We can now be confident that these fair housing plans will lead quickly to the construction of new homes for families, seniors and people with disabilities. As the current housing process moves into the next phase, I look forward to working with advocates to increase state resources dedicated to revitalizing our communities and expanding opportunities for New Jersey families.”