Will NJ’s Top Court Boost Affordable-Housing Requirements?

The New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments over whether the number of affordable homes municipalities must provide over the next decade should include low-income residents who could not afford housing over a 16-year period.

While it is never smart to second guess a court, based on the justices' questions to attorneys arguing the complex question of municipal housing quotas, it seems likely the court may require higher allocations than municipalities have argued they are required to deliver. The questioning seemed to indicate an inclination by the justices to include as part of these quotas obligations that accrued between 1999 and 2015, the so-called gap period when New Jersey had no valid affordable housing rules in force.

The details of the issue are complex, but the language used by several of the justices made it seem they did not accept the argument made by Jeffrey Surenian, lead attorney representing some 280 municipalities, that language in the state Fair Housing Act precludes towns from having to meet any needs that occurred during the 16-year gap period.

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