Assembly Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Scutari, joined by Assemblywoman Lopez and Senator Singleton, held a joint press conference today to announce legislation to amend the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
While bill language is not currently available, the legislators provided some insight into the proposal. First, the legislation would provide for the elimination of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), which has been declared moribund by the State Supreme Court. COAH would be replaced by an “Affordable Housing Dispute Resolution Program” to be created within the Administrative Office of Courts.
The bill creates a two-year timeline with the goal of having all municipalities adopt final fair share plans and housing elements by January 31, 2026.
The bill would create a statutory formula to determine municipal obligations based on the “Jacobson Opinion” (IMO the Application of the Municipality of Princeton and IMO West Windsor Twp.).
There would be three “special masters” appointed in the North, Central, and South regions. The special masters would be required to determine the regional need and calculate the affordable housing obligations for each municipality. It is our understanding that the obligations determined by the special master for each municipality are not binding. A municipality would, within reason, be able to adjust their obligation based on a showing of individualized need.
The League looks forward to reviewing the legislation and working with Assemblywoman Lopez and Senator Singleton on this critical issue. We will continue to keep our members informed on this matter as more information becomes available.