Exclusionary policies at heart of latest affordable housing arguments, advocates say

TRENTON – Kevin Walsh of the Fair Share Housing Center said low-income residents have been waiting for years, “looking for the promise of Mount Laurel.”

As affordable housing regulations were being argued today before the state Supreme Court, he said that since the Fair Housing Act went into effect in 1985, 60,000 homes have been created.

He called for the “need for an expeditious remedy to end the 13-year delay” and said that the 1983 Mount Laurel court decision requires that a “regional approach” be taken toward affordable housing.

However, regarding the so-called Third Round rules proposed by the Council on Affordable Housing, the spirit of the 29-year-old court ruling is being challenged, since it doesn’t put a check on municipal planning and zoning discretion, Fair Housing contends.

“It does not check exclusionary housing,” Walsh said.

He pointed out that the Route 1 corridor has created 13 times more jobs than the amount of housing that is available.

Given that New Jersey is already one of the more racially and economically “segregated” states, Walsh said the state cannot afford to adopt more exclusionary policies.

A lawyer for the New Jersey Builders Association said that the Round 3 rules would give too much control to local development boards, with many suburbs adopting policies that would limit or eliminate multifamily housing and encourage large-lot housing.

“They’ll do it because they don’t want poor people,” lawyer Stephen Eisdorfer said. “They don’t want kids. It’s a fiscally losing proposition.”

Walsh and other opponents of the growth share model, which calls for builders to have one affordable housing unit for every four market-rate units, calls for a more analytical approarach to determine how much affordable housing should be built within the region. Too often, they say, cities and urban communities wind up having a disproportionate of the low and moderate-income housing, while suburbs adopting zoning policies that are surreptiously intended to skirt/avoid their share of affordable housing construction. 

Exclusionary policies at heart of latest affordable housing arguments, advocates say