Affordable Housing Archive, New Jersey

Current Developments

LATEST: Appellate Division voids abolition of COAH

The Mount Laurel I and II decisions1 granted New Jersey’s lower-to-middle income residents an opportunity to purchase or rent housing in affluent areas of the state by mandating all municipalities to create and build affordable housing.

Following much litigation in the courts, the New Jersey legislature enacted the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) in 1985 to set forth procedures and standards for municipalities to build affordable housing.2 As well, the FHA created the Coalition of Affordable Housing (“COAH”), an administrative body that was charged with keeping New Jersey’s municipalities on track with fulfilling their fair share housing obligations.

In October 2010, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, ruled that some of COAH’s regulations were unconstitutional and needed alteration.3 The Governor’s office and State legislature were at odds over the proper course of action to take in order to remedy this decision, so no action was taken.

On January 13, 2011, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, told Governor Christie to implement new rule changes that would see COAH’s regulations became constitutional.4 However, on January 24, the State’s Supreme Court granted the Governor’s administration and COAH a delay in implementing new regulations.5

Additionally on January 24, 2011, Governor Christie vetoed S1/A3447 (“S1”), a bill that passed through both the State senate and assembly.6 S1 took several months to reach the governor’s desk. The bill would have eliminated the COAH agency, a proposition favored by the governor, but would require all municipalities to dedicate ten-percent of all housing for lower-to-middle income residents.7 The governor disagreed with the latter portion of the bill.

The Governor went ahead with the abolition of COAH on June 29, 2011, by means of Reorganization Plan No. 001-2011 (http://www.nj.gov/dca/services/lps/hss/transinfo/001-2011.pdf), effective August 29, 2011.    Current information about the administration of the Fair Housing Act is found on the Department of Community Affairs website at http://www.nj.gov/dca/services/lps/hss/ .

On March 8, 2012, the Appellate Division held that the reorganization plan abolishing COAH was invalid.  See In re Plan for Abolition of COAH, No. A-6301-10,