The New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) just won’t die.
The state Supreme Court has refused to delay an appellate court order reinstating the organization.
The decision is a blow to Gov. Chris Christie’s attempts to dissolve the controversial group responsible for implementing the state’s fair housing laws, including establishing and monitoring local affordable housing obligations. While working on these fronts, COAH was widely criticized for being overly bureaucratic.
Still, a number of housing advocates want to see the council remain.
The latest decision is good news, but not the final word in the long-running battle, said Kevin Walsh, associate director of the Fair Share Housing Center in Cherry Hill, N.J.
The court could still decide to take the case. However, at this time, its action to stay the appellate court ruling is important because it means money remains in municipalities’ housing trust funds, according to Walsh.
Many towns that received allocations from the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help build affordable housing have not spent their cash as the COAH battle dragged on, citing a lack of guidance.
The court decision also reaffirms the opinion that Christie violated the state Constitution when he abolished COAH last year, according to Walsh.
“The governor has been told three times that what he has tried is unlawful,” he said.
Although Walsh said he expects COAH to get back to business and hold meetings, it may not be that easy. Others have noted that board members have moved on or terms have expired.