The Times, Trenton

Support Housing Choices & Jobs For New Jersey

The Times of Trenton — Thursday, February 26, 2009

Open Letter

The Honorable Jon S. Corzine, Governor
State House
Trenton, NJ

NJ Senate and General Assembly
State House
Trenton, NJ

February 26, 2009

Re: Support Housing Choices & Jobs For New Jersey

Dear Governor Jon S. Corzine and Members of the New Jersey Assembly and Senate:

We the undersigned urge you to support housing choices and job creation for New Jersey and to oppose S2485. Every New Jersey resident deserves to live in a safe, decent home they can afford. With last year’s adoption of A500, the comprehensive housing reform package that has been called one of the most important housing efforts in the country, our state is now on the verge of providing the increased housing choices needed to make this happen. Creating the homes that New Jersey desperately needs will also spur the economy and create jobs. Now is not the time to turn back, but to move forward.

We call on Governor Corzine, members of the Legislature and local elected officials to work together to implement A500 and stop S2485. We need to give A500 a chance to work. Inexplicably, last month one of A500’s main sponsors, Senator Lesniak, introduced legislation that guts many of its key elements. S2485 proposes an 18 month moratorium on the 2.5% non-residential Developer Fee, which supporters of S2485 claim is hindering growth. To the contrary, at last count the Fee had raised at least $12 million, meaning that over $500 million in commercial development has already occurred since A500 went into effect last year. The $12 million is now available to help revive the residential housing market.

In addition to a moratorium on the Fee, S2485 also calls for a moratorium on the commercial share of fair-share housing obligations during this period, the reimbursement of Developer Fee money already collected, and changes that will postpone its future collection far beyond the proposed moratorium period. This goes far beyond the simple economic relief to commercial developers supporters of the bill purport to be pursuing.

The truth is that most homes New Jersey residents can afford have been built without public subsidies or developer fees. New Jersey municipalities have more than $230 million in developer fees on hand from past years that can be used to help where needed, in addition to other state, federal and private dollars. Some of these towns have been spending their Developer Fee money all along to create housing opportunities, others need it now to build the homes outlined in the housing plan they just submitted to the state in December. Why would our elected leaders stop the clock on towns’ fair housing responsibilities when there are significant resources already in hand to create jobs and homes, and when the 2.5 percent developer Fee is only a limited part of the picture? Why would they prevent towns who have been working in good faith to promote a range of housing choices from implementing their plans? Should municipalities tell their residents and workers that their homes will have to wait? What about the unemployed workers who would have had jobs building those homes? These are questions all New Jersey residents should be asking of their elected leaders.

S2485 is the latest attempt to undo last year’s historic reforms before they have been fully implemented. We urge our leaders and lawmakers to reject S2485 and stand firm against rolling back these advances. We believe it is time to realize the promise of A500, by building the homes and creating the jobs New Jersey needs.

Very truly yours,

Signatures of 36 Organizations including NJCA

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