TRENTON – Democrats have proposed a few bills lately calling for the creation of more affordable housing, with one sponsored by Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, being the most discussed at recent committee hearings.
But now, a Republican, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco Jr., (R-25), of Boonton, has introduced a bill-A2717, that would enable towns to keep the funds they have collected in their affordable housing trust funds for four years. He introduced the bill on Thursday.
The bill would be in contrast with Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, which calls on transferring all unspent municipal affordable housing trust fund proceeds, estimated to be about $225 million, to the Department of Community Affairs.
Herb Levine, executive director of the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, said at a Tuesday press conference at Homefront in Lawrence Township that Christie is wrong to propose that.
But Christie’s budget is simply following the law. The Legislature in 2008 passed a bill that gave towns four years to expend their affordable housing trust funds, which are built up through fees developers pay for new projects they construct in towns.
If the towns don’t spend the funds within the four years, by July 2012, then the funds would be diverted to DCA control.
Bucco’s bill would simply extend that timeframe by another four years.
Assembly communications director Tom Hester said there are no plans to include the legislation on the agendas of any committees.
It’s not clear how the DCA would use the money, as several calls and emails sent to DCA spokespersons were not returned.
The DCA, according to the 2008 bill, would put the money in the New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” and would use the local funds in “the housing region of the transferring municipality for the authorized purposes of that fund.”
Affordable housing has remained a major issue, as last week, a court ruled that Christie’s abolishment of the Council on Affordable Housing last year was unconstitutional, saying that only the Legislature has the authority to disband the council.