2017 accomplishments and forward to 2018!
Posted by Kevin Walsh on December 29th 2017
After more than a decade of delays, the logjam finally broke in 2017. Because of our work and because of your support, the widespread disregard of New Jersey’s fair housing laws has ended.
In 2017, municipalities committed to providing, and provided zoning and funding to allow, tens of thousands of homes for lower-income families and people with disabilities. Families are finally getting opportunities denied to them by municipalities that got away with discrimination; and non-profit and for-profit developers are building homes, including many that are strengthening New Jersey’s downtowns near transit, from Woodbridge to Westmont. Lower-income households are beginning to apply for homes that will make their rents and mortgages affordable – we are seeing the settlements we have reached translate already into construction in places like Plainsboro, Clinton Township, and Westfield. We have not seen this level of expansion of opportunity in New Jersey in decades, if ever.
Fair Share Housing Center was busier and more effective in 2017 than at any point in our 42-year history. We began the year with a big win when the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held that the “gap period” need for affordable homes must be satisfied.
We continued to push municipalities to meet their fair share obligations by participating in more than 300 court cases. We have settled with more than 170 of those municipalities and are in the process of defending those settlements in court. We have seen more success through the ongoing court-administered enforcement of the Mount Laurel doctrine than through anything the Council on Affordable Housing did in the past two decades.
In a 40-day trial in Trenton, we challenged claims by wealthy municipalities that seek to exclude by pretending the need for affordable homes does not exist. We were joined in court by civil rights leaders, people with special needs, housing advocates, and religious leaders who came to testify through their presence. We await the judge’s decision and are hopeful it will recognize the extent of the housing need in our state and the importance of promoting racial integration in one of the nation’s most segregated states.
As 2017 draws to a close, we also mark the end of Governor Christie’s efforts to undermine our fair housing laws. We survived the Christie Administration’s eight-year effort by challenging it at every turn and making persuasive arguments before New Jersey’s independent judiciary. We blocked the governor from taking control of the Council on Affordable Housing; blocked the governor’s reorganization plan; blocked the governor’s attempt to seize $160 million in affordable housing trust funds; and exposed the governor’s proposed legislation as a scam that would result in no affordable homes. We also, along with the NJ NAACP and Latino Action Network, reached the largest settlement in the entire nation in the 50-year history of the federal Fair Housing Act. The settlement reallocated over a half-billion dollars to lower-income communities and communities of color impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
With your help, 2018 promises to be another year in which we make New Jersey fairer, more affordable, and more racially and economically inclusive.
But taking on hundreds of municipalities to make sure they create opportunities for working families, people with disabilities, and lower-income seniors is not an easy or inexpensive task. We need your support. Please send a gift today so we can continue our work in 2018.
Thanks and Happy New Year!