TRENTON – Both the Fair Share Housing Center and the Department of Community Affairs expressed optimism over the affordable housing ruling handed down Tuesday.
The Housing Center attorney who won the ruling regarding one aspect of the case against the state in the long-running battle over affordable housing felt that it bodes well as the Center prepares for full arguments next year.
Kevin Walsh said that although the ruling requires DCA to comply with certain administrative procedures he acknowledged that it does not prevent the Council on Affordable Housing reorganization from proceeding.
In fact, the Department of Community Affairs emphasized that aspect in its response this afternoon.
DCA spokeswoman Lisa Ryan issued a statement: “The court determined a procedural issue on the proposed regulations.
“The more critical and positive ruling from our perspective is that the court refused to block the Governor’s COAH reorganization plan.’’
And Governor’s spokesman Michael Drewniak added that in the context of the DCA statement, the Housing Center was taking a “premature victory lap.’’
In addressing a larger issue, Walsh said state agencies such as COAH, the Economic Development Authority, the Meadowlands Commission and others are set up, in part, to provide independence from the Executive branch.
“If the governor can shut down COAH he can shut down any other entity and consolidate the power,’’ Walsh said. “He wants wealthy towns to be able to do whatever they want.’’
Walsh said that the Housing Center is focused on what the state Supreme Court may do in the future regarding towns’ affordable housing obligations.
The Housing Center is a 36-year-old agency that battles for the housing rights of poor N.J. residents.