A comprehensive bill to reform the state’s Fair Housing Act and affordable housing policy is scheduled for a hearing before the Assembly Housing Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, December 20.
Assembly bill A-4, introduced on December 18, would eliminate 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 the Courts. The Affordable Housing Dispute Resolution program would take over the process of administrative review of municipal affordable housing plans that was once done by COAH.
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. The obligations adopted by the special master would act as guidelines for a municipality. Each municipality, however, would be free to diverge from the special master’s calculation if local factors exist that make it unreasonable.
The League is still reviewing this legislation and we hope to have a more comprehensive breakdown of the bill available to our members soon.
If you plan to submit testimony or testify at the Assembly Housing Committee hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. on December 20, we ask that you reach out in advance to League Associate Counsel, Frank Marshall, Esq., to share your comments.