Funding and Requirements for Affordable Housing in Flux
With the huge amount of funding coming to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy relief and with the parameters of COAH regulations still being tested in court, many aspects of New Jersey’s precedent setting affordable housing program are getting overshadowed by other issues. Firms have been selected and procedures are being set up now for processing the tens of thousands of housing claims anticipated for damages done during the Superstorm. However, many of these cases will not address affordable housing damages or remedy affordability.
Additionally, housing trust fund money from many of the state’s municipalities may be appropriated to help offset the state’s budget deficit. The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) voted in early May to require towns without approved spending plans to turn over these funds to the Governor’s office. It is estimated that approximately $80 million of this money is from communities hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, making the obligation to provide affordable housing in these municipalities even more difficult.
Some of the towns without spending plans are arguing that they have not been provided the guidance necessary to prepare and approve them. With the situation regarding COAH regulation in flux for several years now, many communities with the best of intentions may be concerned that proceeding with an affordable housing strategy will cause them to return to “square one” should the resolution of COAH requirements significantly alter the direction intended by their plans.
Adding to these issues is the expiration of affordability controls on existing properties. The Affordable Housing Professionals of New Jersey (AHPNJ) believes that the complex issue of expiring controls is so important that it is hosting an all-day seminar with planning, legal, administrative agents, rental managers and other housing professionals to discuss this issue. Visit http://ahpnj.org/events/detail/ahpnjs-symposium-on-expiring-affordability-controls to learn more and/or to register for this event.
To obtain the latest information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including guidance on Federal Affordable Housing and other funding opportunities listed in the May 28, 2013 SuperNOFA, go to http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/grants. This just-released HUD announcement provides information on a wide range of housing programs: including highlights on funding for Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8); Public Housing funds for the elderly, low income families and the disabled; CDBG funds for Native American populations; the HOPE VI Program; funds for Public Housing Drug elimination efforts; and a range of other funding opportunities.
Clearly, with many of the traditional affordable housing programs in flux and cuts to other programs in progress, municipalities need to fine tune their strategies for competing and securing the funds necessary to meet their housing needs. Municipalities with public housing authorities can no longer depend on a large influx of federal money to sustain their operations. New and innovative approaches to providing affordable housing for eligible residents will have to be devised until there is certainty in the state’s COAH program. With the crush of rebuilding that will occur as a result of Hurricane Sandy relief, many communities may find it difficult to sort through conflicting and confusing obligations for affordable housing development.
As a result it is critical that municipal housing officials secure the ongoing training and education necessary to ensure that communities can compete statewide and nationally for the diminishing funds and programmatic opportunities available. The New Jersey League of Municipalities can be an important conduit for information on training, funding, regulation and other pertinent material to help guide your community’s affordable and other housing needs.
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