In New Jersey, affordable housing has been one of the main topics of conversation. In early March, the NJ Supreme Court ruled that they will now enforce affordable housing laws because of the failure of Christie’s administration to do so. So what does this mean for towns who already have serious issues with housing?
Marlboro, New Jersey, my hometown, has seen many issues with affordable housing. The town is home to mostly moderate and high-income residents. Marlboro was plagued with overdevelopment and corruption in the 1990s. Hundreds of “mcmansions” were built throughout the town. Public schools are flooded with students and streets can barely hold the congestion and traffic.
<Typical Marlboro Home>
In 2012, they found that people were not applying to their affordable housing units and they were sitting vacant. Mayor Hornik criticized laws that force the town to have a large number affordable housing because he does not see a demand for them in Marlboro. Laws require Marlboro Township to have about 1,600 affordable housing units. They were having trouble filling six units in the Morganville section of town. There are some new affordable housing units, but are in a new luxury apartment complex. Many are unaware that there is affordable housing in the upscale area.
<Affordable Housing in Marlboro>
The town has $13 million in a trust fund for affordable housing, which is the largest amount in New Jersey. They attribute that to the lack of direction that they have been given from the state. Marlboro probably would have had to allocate their money somewhere, but now it is unknown. Towns are supposed to present a plan for affordable housing in July, but what does it mean for Marlboro? Will they be forced to allocate more areas to affordable housing? They cannot build anymore or the town will become seriously overpopulated.
Their master plan does not state much about affordable housing. Their next steps are unclear with this change in who has the power over housing. Marlboro was never struck down by COAH, but the NJ Supreme Court might step in. This will probably lead to the town filing appeals because they do not think they there is a demand for 1,600 units in the town. Affordable housing might bring some diversity to Marlboro, which would make it a better place. Marlboro needs more diversity and mixed incomes. The town is dominated by the white middle class who do not think the town needs change. It will be interesting to see their next moves.