Bill on Affordable Housing Approved by NJ Senate, Heads to Assembly

Senate Bill S-1, which revises and reforms many of the statutes relating to affordable housing in New Jersey, was voted out of the Senate Economic Growth Committee on June 3rd with amendments. S-1 would abolish the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and would allow municipalities to administer their own affordable housing obligations. S-1 would eliminate State imposed calculations of affordable housing need and would permit local governments to take charge of planning for affordable housing.

The Senate Committee Substitute to S-1 incorporates the most recent amendments to the bill. The original bill transferred the authority of COAH to the State Planning Commission. Under the Substitute to S-1, much of this authority has been given to municipalities to determine their affordable housing needs, with decreased state involvement, now transferred to the Department of Community Affairs. This reallocation of power was the heart of the reform plan announced by Governor Christie on May 13. Other measures, also part of the Governor’s plan, were incorporated in the Substitute to S-1, such as priority for development and funding of special needs housing, an affordable housing unit set-aside based on the size of the residential development project, and flexibility for municipalities of provide for a variety of economic incentives to a developer, such as payments in lieu of construction, off-site construction, provision of accessory apartments and Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity Units and rehabilitation that includes affordable units. The statement issued by the Senate Economic Growth Committee outlines and explains the amendments in detail.

On June 10, the Senate approved S-1 by a vote of 28-3 and now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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