Controversial ‘builder’s remedy’ targeted in Assembly budget hearing

Controversial ‘builder’s remedy’ targeted in Assembly budget hearing

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz raised the problem of the “builder’s remedy” as a means of forcing municipal compliance with affordable housing obligations at an Assembly Budget Committee hearing Monday.

The so-called builder’s remedy allows developers to sue municipalities and force massive residential development with only a small percentage to be used for affordable housing. It forces towns to unnecessarily build four-times more homes than mandated.

“The builder’s remedy has been very troubling because it doesn’t build enough affordable housing while it creates this high-density suburban sprawl,” Munoz (R-Union) said.

WATCH: Munoz targets “builder’s remedy” at budget hearing

The state Supreme Court approved plans in 2017 for more than 285,000 affordable units over the next five years.  That would force more than 1.4 million new homes to be constructed under the remedy also approved by courts.

Munoz pointed out that a 37.5 percent population growth would be required to meet that supply of new housing. A Rutgers study on population growth found that the state population is only supposed to increase .3 percent annually, or 219,000 total by 2026.

“We’re going to have more units built than we’re going to have number of people coming into the state,” said Munoz, noting that the builders’ remedy could create “a building glut that ultimately may collapse the housing market in the state of New Jersey.”

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver reported that there was no movement within the Murphy administration to address the builder’s remedy.  She appeared before the committee in her role as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, which oversees housing issues across the state.

“I have not been privy, nor have I participated in any discussions with anyone within the administration or with any external entities who have expressed any interest in addressing the builder’s remedy,” Oliver testified.

Oliver agreed, however, that population growth is “consistently diminishing,” and she was looking forward to the completion of the census next year.

“If we look at that data, I think what we’re going to find is that we’re having growth in the low- and moderate-income population in this state,” the Lt. Gov. said.  “There is a growth in the moderate income population in this state.”

Low income is defined as less than 50 percent of regional household income, while moderate income is defined as between 50 to 80 percent of regional median household income.

Munoz co-sponsors legislation (A1650, ACR79) eliminating the builder’s remedy by law and constitutional amendment, saving towns millions of dollars they don’t have and helping keep property taxes in check.