Fair Share Housing Center asks Supreme Court to End Christie Administration’s Delays of Fair Housing (EJ)
On Friday, October 31, 2014, Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) filed a Motion to Enforce Litigants’ Rights at the New Jersey Supreme Court in response to the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH)’s failure earlier this month to adopt new rules to implement the New Jersey Fair Housing Act. The motion, which is available here, asks the Court to find that because the Christie Administration has failed to follow the Court’s orders, trial courts rather than COAH will be responsible for implementing the Fair Housing Act.
“The Christie Administration for years has opposed any fair solution to ensure that municipalities do not unfairly exclude working families, lower-income seniors, and people with special needs,” FSHC Staff Attorney Kevin Walsh said. “Today we ask the Supreme Court to say that, after interminable delays, we need to move forward, for the sake of the many people still looking for a decent place to live whether as a result of Superstorm Sandy, the foreclosure crisis, or the broader housing shortage in the State. Our communities and economy have suffered too long from Governor Christie’s refusal to deal with how unaffordable homes in New Jersey have become.”
The motion follows COAH’s failure to meet the Supreme Court’s October 22, 2014 deadline for adopting new rules to implement the Fair Housing Act in order to publish the rules in the New Jersey Register by November 17, 2014. That deadline itself, established by a March 14, 2014 order of the Supreme Court, was a nearly nine month extension from the original February 26, 2014, deadline. The Court at that time stated that if the revised deadline were not met, it would consider a motion such as the one FSHC filed today.
The Christie Administration’s rulemaking process was plagued by wildly inaccurate data such as claiming that much of the land in Monmouth County was actually located in Ocean County, a refusal to release to the public basic information about how the rules were devised followed by a claim that key documents had been “lost”, and manipulating housing need figures based on assuming that New Jersey would never recover from the 2008 recession. As a result of these deep flaws, the COAH Board refused to adopt the rules at an October 20, 2014 meeting.
The motion asks the Court to set up an orderly process that is fair to housing advocates, non-profit and for-profit developers, and municipalities, ensuring that all interested parties have an opportunity to participate and that the public is fully notified of all such proceedings. The motion also asks that the Court designate a small number of judges to determine the fair share of homes for each municipality for working families, lower-income seniors, and people with special needs, again with full participation of all interested parties, over the next 90 days.
“We need a fair path forward to address New Jersey’s housing shortage, where everyone can participate, with full transparency,” Walsh added. “Unfortunately, the Christie Administration tried to hide what it was doing from public view, and supposedly ‘lost’ documents, instead of having a transparent process. We hope that the Supreme Court will recognize the need for a fair and public process to get homes built and our economy moving.”
Fair Share Housing Center, founded in 1975 is based in Cherry Hill. It is the only public interest organization devoted entirely to defending the housing rights of New Jersey’s poor through implementing the Mount Laurel doctrine, which requires that each municipality provides its fair share of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income people.
Visit Fair Share Housing on the web at www.fairsharehousing.org.