TRENTON – Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable said today that the more than $175 million worth of municipal affordable housing trust funds the state will take control of in July will continue to be used for that purpose and not go to the general fund.
“I can say, unequivocally, the money is not going to the general fund,” he said.
There are about 298 towns that still have money in their municipal affordable housing trust funds, which are built up through the accumulation of developers’ fees. Constable told the Assembly Budget Committee about 25 percent of those towns have not spent any of the funds to build housing for low-income and moderate-income residents.
Any unspent municipal affordable housing funds will lapse to the state account in July, as dictated by a 2008 law, A500, which created the mechanism.
But some Democrats on the Assembly Budget Committee, including Chairman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, and Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15), Trenton, said the towns didn’t spend the funds because it was not clear what the Council on Affordable Housing’s fate would be.
However, DCA officials maintain the 2008 law made it clear the state would take control of the funds if they were not committed.
“It was a choice these municipalities made not to utilize these funds,” Constable told the committee on Monday. “We believe they shouldn’t languish. We want to utilize it on programs to help affordable housing.”
Besides actual construction of the affordable housing, the money would go toward vouchers for Section 8 housing, housing for disabled residents, and rental assistance.
The state could spend the trust funds in the municipalities from which the funds came, or on surrounding regions, according to Constable.
In addition to the $175 million, the state is also expected to see another $53 million in funds between 2012 and 2013, the commissioner said.