In the town of Paramus, my group’s town of choice for the class project, there is only a small mention of affordable housing. It is very vague in description of location and seems to be open to a wide variety of interpretation. It reads:
“The Affordable Housing catergory applies to an area directly north of the Township of Rochelle Park municipal boundary and directly eat of the Garden State Parkway. This designation is soley intended for the construction of lower-income housing units, including atrium homes, quadplexes, and/or multi-family units. The maximum density permitted in this category is 21 units per acre.”
To me, this can be open to many definitions, but that isn’t necessarily a negative. People come from all different backgrounds, so this can be a good thing. Paramus is a very prosperous municipality. Considered the “shopping mecca” of the world, the town boasts 3 major shopping malls with retail space selling at a premium. Every retailer in the country wants in on Paramus. But that doesn’t stop the municipality from contributing to its fare share on affordable housing. Many communities that have the same level of wealth as Paramus does do not offer affordable housing. For example, Ridgewood has minimal affordable housing, but maintains an enriched downtown area. Paramus is so big retail wise that it does not have the luxury of providing a downtown or a certain sense of charm. Another aspect is tax revenue. Paramus has lower taxes compared to Ridgewood or Ramsey, due to the amount of retail space it provides and the amount of revenue obtained from that. This allows Paramus do offer a higher degree of affordable housing, with a broader statement in the master plan. There is another piece which contributes to the affordable housing sections as well: Paramus Human Services. This branch of the local government, not seen in many if not all of the surrounding towns, works with lower income and disadvantaged residents or potential residents. They seek to provide them with the necessary goods to live in Paramus, such as tax breaks, food pantry items, and of course affordable housing. Although the Human Services Department is small, it has a significant impact on the overall diversity of the town. It brings in people who would not normally be able to live in a town as prosperous as Paramus to enable them to send there children to school in some of the best public schools in the state. Paramus can been seen as mixture of a Ridgewood type town and a Hackensack type; giving more of a preference to single family homes, but allowing multi-family lots and affordable housing into the game.