Mayors across New Jersey recently received letters from the state seeking the money in their affordable housing trusts funds.
The move is the latest in the long-standing battle over the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), which was abolished by Gov. Chris Christie, who wants to divert roughly $161 million in local housing funds to fill holes in the state budget.
Local jurisdictions have until Aug. 13 to respond to the letter.
COAH was responsible for implementing the state’s fair housing laws, establishing local affordable housing obligations, and overseeing local housing trust funds. However, it was much criticized for being overly bureaucratic.
The fight over the council’s elimination continues. Earlier this year, a state appellate court said Christie overstepped his authority in dissolving the agency, setting the stage for further wrangling.
Most recently, the Fair Share Housing Center and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities sought to block the state from taking the local housing funds that remained uncommitted. Under the rules, a municipality needed to spend its development fees within four years or risk losing them to the state. A panel of appellate judges decided in July that the state could go ahead and seize the money but the communities needed to be notified and given a chance to appeal.
It was a partial victory for both sides but not a final resolution. The fight over the funds and the reorganization of COAH remains ongoing.