August 9, 2012
Re: Affordable Housing Trust Funds
Yesterday, August 9th, the League, represented by a panel of Mayors and Senior Legislative Analyst Mike Cerra, testified before the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee regarding the on-going issues of the municipal affordable housing trust funds.
Charles Richman, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, testified before the Committee. Mr. Richman reiterated the Administration’s position that it intends to seize trust funds that are uncommitted for more than four years. When asked when the COAH board would meet to authorize the agency’s actions, he deferred to answer because it was subject to current litigation.
The League followed with a panel which included Mayors Brian Carlin of Burlington Township, Frank Gambatese of South Brunswick and William Kochersperger of Pemberton Borough. The Mayors countered the oft-repeated myth that only municipalities who have chosen not to build housing are at risk of losing their trust funds, citing local examples of real world projects that are now jeopardized because of the State’s intention to seize the trust fund dollars. For example, Mayor Gambatese talked about the success of South Brunswick’s in-house program. Since the program is run by municipal employees, there are no third party contracts in place. Mayors Carlin and Kochersperger each highlighted particular projects that are on-going but could lose the necessary funding for the projects with the State’s action. We thank the Mayors for their excellent testimony and note that the Legislative panel expressed its great concern that these municipalities could be penalized.
The League’s prepared statement is online at: http://www.njslom.org/testimony/AHO_8-8-2012-trust-funds.pdf
If you recall, the State filed its brief today in response to the Fair Share Housing Center’s motion to enforce litigant’s rights. Fair Share argues that the July 24, 2012 letter from Sean Thompson was improper, and that only the COAH board can authorize the calculation of funds subject to seizure and make demands for payment. We are monitoring development related to this and the other litigation, and will advise you immediately of any developments. For more on the litigation surrounding this issue, please see our Dear Mayor letter of August 7
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Staff Attorney Matthew Weng at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 609-695-3481 ext 137 or Mike Cerra at email@example.com or 609-695-3481 x120.
William G. Dressel, Jr.
Very truly yours,