April 2, 2012
Re: Affordable Housing/Municipal Trust Fund Dollars & Draft Resolution in Support of A-2717, Extending the deadline on housing trust funds
Earlier today, the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, Richard Constable, testified before the Assembly Budget Committee. During that hearing, the status of municipal affordable housing trust fund dollars was discussed repeatedly.
Acting Commissioner Constable reiterated the Administration’s position that it anticipated an additional $200 million in funding due to a one-time transfer from the municipal trust fund dollars. According to the Department, there is now $175 million dollars subject to forfeiture from the State based the provision of PL 2008, c. 46.
This is in spite of the fact that neither the Department nor the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) has even proposed regulatory guidance to define the term “committed for expenditure.” Considering the importance of the “committed for expenditure” standard, COAH should have promulgated regulations to define this standard shortly after the legislation was enacted. Instead of defining the standard early on, we are approaching the four year mark identified in the Legislation and COAH still has not defined the standard. Thus, hundreds of municipalities are at risk of losing a significant portion of their trust fund dollars despite the fact these regulations have never been proposed, let alone adopted. Further, it appears increasingly unlikely that any regulatory guidance will be adopted before the July deadline.
Further, in response to a question from Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, the Commissioner confirmed the State’s intention to seize the uncommitted trust fund dollars on or around July 17, but also indicated that an additional $53 million could be forfeited to the State before the end of the FY 2013 state budget (which will run from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.)
Assemblymen Anthony Bucco and John DiMaio have introduced A-2717, which would extend the time period for a municipality to commit to expend its trust fund dollars an additional four years. This legislation is assigned to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. The League supports this legislation and a draft resolution for your consideration is posted in PDF format at: http://www.njslom.org/resolutions/resolution-support-A-2717-trust-fund-dollars.pdf and in Word format at: http://www.njslom.org/resolutions/resolution-support-A-2717-trust-fund-dollars.doc
In the meanwhile, if you have a housing trust fund balance we would urge you to speak to your planning professionals and land use attorneys on how to protect these trust fund dollars. For more on this issue, please see our March 20 Dear Mayor letter or contact Mike Cerra at email@example.com or at 609-695-3481 x120.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.