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June 26, 2012

RE:   URGENT ALERT
        Affordable Housing Trust Funds

Dear Mayor,

There were two major developments yesterday concerning the upcoming July 17 deadline regarding the commitment of the municipal affordable housing trusts.

First, the proposed State budget, which passed both Houses yesterday, included new language in Budget Resolution 1424 (underlined below) which provides some clarity over what “committed for expenditure” would mean:

87. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 20 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-320), section 8 ofP.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.2), section 9 of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.3), or any other law or regulation to the contrary, an amount not to exceed $200,000,000 of monies received in the “New Jersey Affordable Housing Trust Fund” consisting of payments of development fees or payments-in-lieu of constructing affordable units pursuant to section 8 of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.2) or section 9 of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.3) that have not been designated for creating or rehabilitating housing affordable to low or moderate income households, including but not limited to foreclosed homes, by formal action including a municipal resolution or ordinance, which action shall be deemed as having committed such development fees or payments-in-lieu of constructing affordable units, prior to the deadline established in subsection d. of section 8 of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.2) and subsection b. of section 9 of P.L.2008, c.46 (C.52:27D-329.3) shall be deposited in the General Fund as State revenue, subject to the approval of the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting. Amounts appropriated in this Act for the provision of programs for affordable housing for households and individuals with low and moderate incomes shall be credited against such funds as determined by the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting. Such programs shall include but not be limited to State programs for: rental assistance; homelessness prevention; residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illness, parolees and other individuals in the criminal justice system; shelter assistance; and emergency assistance for individuals and families facing homelessness.

Essentially, this new language would recognize formal action taken by a governing body to designate this funding, including by resolution or ordinance, as meeting the definition of “committed” and protect such funding from forfeiture to the State.   We commend the respective budget chairs, Senator Paul Sarlo and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, for adding this clarifying language. 

The State Budget now awaits action by the Governor, who can sign it, veto the entire budget, conditionally veto it or enact line-item vetoes.   Thus, the language above may not be part of the final budget.  

Meanwhile, the General Assembly approved A-2950 by a bi-partisan vote of 51-19 with 9 abstentions.   This legislation would provide the following:

1. Extend the deadline to commit trust fund dollars from four years from the date of collection to six years. Thus, dollars subject to forfeiture to the State this July would be protected until July 2014; and

2. Provide that any dollars forfeited after six years will either be transferred to the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund, or to the County if it has established a “Homelessness Trust Fund pursuant to NJSA 52:27D-287(e) or if it serves an “urban county pursuant to section 102(a)(6) of the “Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.” This provision allows for the trust fund dollars to be retained and used locally.

The Senate companion, S-2011, is on the Senate board list for a vote this Thursday.   If approved, the bill would head to the Governor for his consideration. 

Additionally, the League participated in a joint press conference with stakeholders interested in the protection of this funding, including the Housing and Community Development Network and the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey.      Mayors Linda DuBois of Pittsgrove and Bert Steinmann of Ewing Township spoke on behalf of the League in support of the legislative efforts to provide an extension for the housing trusts. 

We thank the Mayors and other interested stakeholders for their support of this initiative.  In the meanwhile, we would urge to immediately contact your State Senator and the Governor’s office in support of this legislation.  

For more on this event, please see the Star-Ledger story at: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/06/advocates_mayors_push_for_bill.html

Questions on this can be directed to Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x120.

 

                                                                        Very truly yours,

 

                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.

                                                                        Executive Director

 

 

 

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