New Jersey Legislature Bill to Eliminate Council on Affordable Housing

March 22, 2024

Governor Murphy signed the bill on Wednesday, March 20 that eliminates the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and establishes a process for towns to determine their obligations based on Department of Community Affairs (DCA) calculations.  The bill requires the DCA to complete and publish its calculations no later than October 20, 2024.  Other important deadlines are listed below. The legislation changes affordable housing processes that will impact New Jersey’s municipalities, including the vacant land process and how unmet need is handled. The legislation continues to allow a maximum of 25% of the obligation to be met by bonus credits but removes rental bonus credits, which many towns relied upon in Round 3 as a crediting option.

T&M is an established leader in assisting municipalities in navigating the State of New Jersey’s complex affordable housing regulations and has the expertise to assist your community in addressing its affordable housing obligation. Our Planning Group, which includes licensed Professional Planners (PP) and members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), has guided nearly 50 municipalities through the affordable housing planning process and has over 45 years of combined experience in this complex area of planning practice.

Led by our Planning Group Manager, Caroline Reiter, PP, AICP, our Planning Group provides a range of affordable housing planning services, such as:

  • Development of housing elements and fair share plans to address affordable housing obligations
  • Preparation of various zoning and other ordinances to implement housing elements and fair share plans
  • Participation in affordable housing mediation with the Fair Share Housing Center, developers, and intervenors
  • Completion of affordable housing trust fund spending plans
  • Preparation of site suitability analyses, buildout analyses, vacant land adjustments, and mid-point reviews of fair share plan implementation

Our Planning Group has participated in the negotiation of settlement agreements, identified appropriate locations for inclusionary and 100-percent affordable housing, prepared complex demographic and economic analyses to support affordable housing mediation, and developed award-winning solutions to address unmet need obligations.

In addition to the above, Caroline has testified at fairness hearings in the New Jersey Superior Court and has expert-level knowledge of New Jersey’s complex affordable housing laws and regulations, which are rapidly evolving as New Jersey prepares to enter the “Fourth Round” of affordable housing obligations.

Important Deadlines – New Legislation

Failure to meet these deadlines could result in a municipality losing its immunity from exclusionary zoning litigation.

  • October 20, 2024 – DCA must calculate regional need and municipal present and prospective obligations in accordance with formulas established in the bill. The date is either December 1, 2024, or the earlier of seven months following the effective date of the affordable housing legislation.
  • January 31, 2025 – The municipality must adopt its obligation by a binding resolution to be protected from an exclusionary zoning lawsuit.
  • February 28, 2025 – If a challenge is filed with Affordable Housing Dispute Resolution program on or before the date February 28, 2025, then the program must facilitate a resolution prior to April 1, 2025.
  • March 1, 2025 – If the municipality meets the January 31st deadline, then the fourth-round obligation would be established.
  • June 30, 2025 – The municipality must prepare and adopt a Housing Element and Fair Share Plan (HE/FSP) to encompass and meet its obligation in advance of the fourth round to be protected from an exclusionary zoning lawsuit. The municipality shall submit its adopted HE/FSP within 48 hours.
  • August 31, 2025 – An interested party can initiate a challenge to a HE/FSP if submitted to the program on or before August 31, 2025. Program would communicate with the municipality until December 31, 2025, to respond or provide an explanation why it will not make all or the request changes, or both.
  • March 15, 2026 –  The municipality must adopt changes to the ordinances. If failed, then the immunity from exclusionary zoning litigation would end unless the program determines that immunity shall be extended. A municipality involved in a continuing dispute may adopt a binding resolution as an alternative to adopting the implementing ordinances by March 15th, 2026.