Affordable housing project in Howell underscores need for legislative reform, say Singer, Kean and Thomson

Affordable housing project in Howell underscores need for legislative reform, say Singer, Kean and Thomson

Sean T. Kean

TRENTON, N.J. – Sen. Robert Singer and Assemblymen Sean Kean and Edward Thomson, lawmakers from Legislative District 30, which includes Howell, say a proposed 319-unit project in the township illustrates the urgent need for affordable housing reform. When the Legislature reconvenes after the November election, they are calling on lawmakers to immediately consider affordable housing policy that includes eliminating mandatory construction, and ensuring housing obligation calculations account for the town’s infrastructure, among other factors.

“When a judge mandates hundreds of new housing units for a town, they often fail to consider the uniqueness of each community and the impact on the town’s quality of life,” said Singer. “It is time for the Legislature to fulfil its responsibility to enact a sensible affordable housing policy which serves the best interest of the communities we represent.”

Legislation (SCR12/ACR77), sponsored by the senator and assemblymen, would eliminate arbitrary municipal affordable housing mandates that force towns to allow high-density developments or face costly litigation.

“We have heard from many towns in our district that are struggling to comply with their court-ordered housing mandates and are concerned about how these projects will affect the character of their town,” said Kean. “The loss of open space, increasing property taxes and more traffic congestion are a few of the many issues municipalities are forced to contend with while attempting to meet these burdensome obligations.” 

Edward H. Thomson

Additional legislation would require the impact on taxes, infrastructure, and schools to be considered when creating affordable housing plans and allow municipalities to challenge their affordable housing numbers. 

“Our communities, like Howell, cannot afford to wait any longer for flaws in the affordable housing system to be addressed,” said Thomson. “The Legislature needs to act immediately on this pressing issue to remedy the unreasonable and costly burden these mandates have imposed on our towns.”

The high-density project in Howell comes as part of an ongoing settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center, which sued several New Jersey municipalities in the 2010s for lack of affordable housing. In 2018, a judge determined that Howell must build 895 affordable housing units by 2025.