Council on Affordable Housing
|Headquarters||101 South Broad Street, Trenton, NJ 08625|
|Parent agency||New Jersey Department of Community Affairs|
The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) is an agency of the Government of New Jersey within the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs that is responsible for ensuring that all 566 New Jersey municipalities provide their fair share of low and moderate income housing. The COAH was created by the New Jersey Legislature in response to the Fair Housing Act of 1985 and a series of New Jersey Supreme Court rulings known as the Mount Laurel decisions.
The council is made up of 12 members appointed by the Governor of New Jersey and approved by the New Jersey Senate. COAH defines housing regions, estimates the needs for low/moderate income housing, allocates fair share numbers by municipality and reviews plans to fulfill these obligations.
As of January 2006, 287 of New Jersey's 566 municipalities are part of the COAH process, and another 78 are or were under the court's jurisdiction. There are at least two COAH municipalities in each of the state's 21 counties. Bergen County has 42 of its 70 municipalities involved, the highest number in the state, with Morris County's 29 municipalities ranking second.
Municipalities originally were allowed to enter into a Regional Contribution Agreement (RCA), which allows them to pay a fee to another municipality that agrees to provide affordable housing units to fulfill up to half of the sending municipality's COAH obligations. The sending municipality must pay a negotiated fee for each unit transferred. For example, Marlboro Township signed an agreement in June 2008 that will have Trenton build or rehabilitate 332 housing units (out of Marlboro's 1,600-unit obligation), with Marlboro paying $25,000 per unit, a total of $8.3 million to Trenton for taking on the responsibility for these units.
RCAs were suppressed by the latest amendment to the state's housing laws on July 17, 2008
On February 9, 2010, Governor Chris Christie suspended COAH and appointed a committee in preparation to dismantle it. The Supreme Court ruled that it was not within his power "“to abolish independent agencies that were created by legislative action.” It also ordered the COAH to come up with new regulations regarding the development of affordable housing. COAH passed new guidelines on May 1, 2014. which increase the amount of units developers are permitted to build in exchange for one affordable housing unit from four to nine. When asked the agency refused to provide the contract for the Rutgers University professor who prepared the plan and claimed that the documents used to calculate the new guidelines had been lost, leading an affordable housing group to offer a $1,000 reward. In July 2014, a superior judge ruled that the contract must be released and search conducting for the missing documents.
In October 2014 the COAH Board failed to meet the deadline by the Surpreme Court for establishing new Third Round guidelines, when the Board voted 3-3, to adopt the proposal. In the absence of action by the state, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in March 2015, that determination of affordable housing obligations would be administered by the court.
- "Marlboro will pay Trenton to take affordable housing", News Transcript, June 18, 2008. Accessed June 25, 2008.
- "Corzine Signs Landmark Affordable Housing Reforms", Cape May County Herald, July 18, 2008. Accessed July 26, 2008
- Kass, Alida (January 31, 2014). "New Jersey Supreme Court Strikes Down Reorganization of the Council on Affordable Housing". Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- O'Dea, Colleen (May 1, 2014). "COAH Votes to Propose New Rules Virtually Sight Unseen". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- Johnson, Brent (April 30, 2014). "NJ releases new affordable housing rules, but advocates are not happy". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- "Affordable housing group offers $1,000 reward for document 'lost' by Christie administration". Newark Star-Ledger. July 25, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- Johnson, Brent (July 2, 2014). "Critics blast Christie administration's new NJ affordable housing plan". Newark Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- "N.J. affordable housing council fails to adopt Christie's new rules despite Supreme Court deadline". The Star-Ledger. October 25, 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
- End Christie's defiance of the Supreme Court: Editorial
- Courts' procedures coming into focus as New Jersey's affordable housing saga continues