From the Star Ledger:
As New Jersey reigned as one of the most expensive places in the country to live, the state agency tasked with regulating and implementing affordable housing guidelines failed to do so from 1999 to 2015.
While some say the state is lacking 80,000 affordable housing units and housing advocates say it’s lacking 200,000 units, everyone agrees: New Jersey does not have enough affordable housing.
And in an overflowing room at the Statehouse on Wednesday, people from all over New Jersey said just that.
How to fix that problem clearly divided the room during a public hearing in front of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.
“This is an incredibly complicated issue,” Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) said after nearly four hours of testimony from local officials, community leaders and residents.
Earlier in the week, Schepisi wrote that affordable housing and the process surrounding it “might be the most urgent issue in our state.”
Nearly every person who spoke Wednesday, whether it was a local mayor or a concerned citizen, prefaced their testimony with “I support affordable housing, but ….”
What came after “but” often varied.
Many people were worried about how hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of new units would affect the school system, the municipality’s infrastructure or how a town with no access to a water or sewer system, like Hopewell, which settled with Fair Share on 653 units, could meet these numbers.
“We believe in affordable housing,” Hopewell Deputy Mayor Julie Blake said. “We are friends of everyone here. We believe in that cause, but it is too much on our property owners.”
Another concern is that more housing than just the court-mandated number of affordable housing units would probably have to be built. If a municipality chooses to have a for-profit developer plan and build the housing, those developers will often set aside the state standard of making 20 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income residents and the rest of them market-rate units.
This means if a town like West Windsor, which still needs to plan for 500 affordable units, used a for-profit developer, that would most likely mean 2,500 total units.