The city of Bayonne is one step closer to completing its master plan after its affordable housing component was approved following an August 23 compliance hearing at the Hudson County Courthouse. Judge Mary Costello ruled that Bayonne had fulfilled its constitutional Fair Share housing requirements to provide at least 20 percent low- and moderate-income housing as part of its development plan. The city needs to rehabilitate only an additional 32 units over the next 10 years, per Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) rules, according to Affordable Housing Consultant for Bayonne, Brian Slaugh. The city already fulfilled its new housing obligations by rehabbing 614 units.
According to Slaugh, the city had to receive approval from the court before it could spend money from its affordable housing trust fund. That fund has more than $1 million, according to John Inglesino, the attorney who represented the city at the hearing. “So there is sufficient funding available to meet the obligation,” he said. “I think we feel very comfortable that the city will fulfill its rehab obligation well in advance of the time period required.”
Every New Jersey municipality is legally required to provide its share of affordable housing. In 1975, the first Mount Laurel decision prohibited municipalities from “exclusionary zoning” practices, which used land-use rules to make it impossible for affordable housing to be built. The second decision in 1983 took the decision further by requiring municipalities to provide housing for low- or moderate-income residents. The New Jersey State Legislature then passed the Fair Housing Act in 1985 that created the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to determine affordable housing needs and approve plans to build and rehab units. COAH created acceptable compliance mechanisms every six years, considered “rounds” of compliance. Bayonne will have complied with its Third Round after it rehabilitates those 32 units. In 1986, COAH released the First Round rules (1987-1993), requiring 10,849 low- and moderate-income homes per year statewide. In 1994, Second Round rules (1993-1999) were released to require 6,465 low- and moderate-income homes. In 2004, the Third Round was revised to cover 10 years. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled COAH a defunct agency, transferring powers to New Jersey superior courts, leading to a ruling determining the Third Round to go from 2016 through 2026.
“No other new construction of affordable housing is planned at this time, though the city will look for opportunities as they arise in the future.” – Brian Slaugh
The Bayonne Plan
In an email to The Bayonne Community News, Slaugh said the city is required only to address the rehabilitation component of the plan. The city’s Division of Community Development and Grants Management has operated a rehabilitation program using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants to rehabilitate homes of residents whose household income is 80 percent or less of the median income in the region. Eligible homeowners may apply for a no-interest loan of up to $20,000.
The city has 614 credits (one credit for each unit rehabbed) toward its affordable housing requirement. In order to qualify for a credit, the City has to spend at least $10,000 to rehab a unit, such as plumbing, electrical, roofing, and siding replacement.
Bayonne has agreed to assist in funding of an eight-unit, multi-family affordable housing building at 180-186 Hobart Avenue, which includes two units for special-needs tenants and six units for families. The building was approved at a Zoning Board meeting in February of 2014.
Slaugh wrote, “No other new construction of affordable housing is planned at this time, though the city will look for opportunities as they arise in the future.”
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at email@example.com.