BERNARDS, NJ – In an effort to halt the impact of massive overdevelopment occurring across the Garden State to satisfy affordable housing needs, Bernards Insight has launched a petition that demands representatives in Trenton collaborate on a legislative fix to NJ’s unsustainable affordable housing process.
Last year, the New Jersey Supreme Court sided with the non-profit Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) to force towns to build close to 155,000 affordable housing units throughout the state.
Many municipalities feel they have no option other than to settle and allow for-profit developers to build “inclusionary developments” that result in building 3-5 times more homes than are necessary just to meet their affordable housing mandates.
“It is extremely common for developers to set aside only 15-20% of the homes they build as affordable units and the remaining 80-85% as market rate housing, resulting in massive overdevelopment and uncontrollable sprawl,” said Debra DeWitt of Bernards Insight.
Glaring examples of massive overdevelopment plans across New Jersey's 565 municipalities are not hard to find. A housing density map created by Bernards Insight pinpoints the overdevelopment of only about 10 square miles spanning the Route 287 and 78 corridors across three separate counties. In total, over 5,900 housing units will be built in Berkeley Heights, Bernards Township, Bernardsville, Far Hills, Harding Township, Long Hill Township, New Providence, Warren Township and Watchung, and only 1,300 of those units are designated as affordable housing.
Prior to 2015, affordable housing obligations were imposed by the state’s now disbanded Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), and municipalities had flexibility in how to meet their obligations. COAH no longer exists and instead, decisions are made by the courts in conjunction with FSHC, many as part of builder’s remedy lawsuits, which enable massive overdevelopment.
The petition calls on New Jersey’s legislature to address the current problem by enacting clear guidelines that will: 1) ensure that AH benefits those who need it; 2) implement a regional or statewide approach and remove judges and courts from the equation; 3) expand the ways in which municipalities can address their fair share of affordable housing fairly.
New Jersey residents are asked to sign the petition and leave comments that will be shared with their elected representatives in Trenton.
The petition can be reviewed and signed at: www.thepetitionsite.com and search on New Jersey Affordable Housing - Time to Make it Fair!