Affordable housing is being built in New Jersey’s urban centers, and why not? There, you have the low- and moderate-income demographic who qualify for affordable housing, and you have all of the transportation infrastructure needed to get folks around.
Problem is, this conventional wisdom assumes that job growth is happening in New Jersey’s urban centers, and that job growth is happening near transit.
Not so fast.
most of the places that already host the greatest numbers of affordable units — places like Newark, Paterson, Trenton and Camden, where many COAH critics suggest additional units should be directed — have, in fact, been losing jobs over the past two decades. Meanwhile, most job growth has taken place in suburban municipalities that are undersupplied with affordable housing.
Long story shot, building even more affordable units in urban centers would only concentrate poverty, and would not place housing near burgeoning employment centers.
According to NJ Future Research Director Tim Evans:
Most large employment centers within the state are not accessible by transit, as evidenced by the fact that only 5 percent of intra-New Jersey commuters ride public transit to work. For every transit-friendly place like Jersey City that is actually gaining jobs, there are a dozen growing employment centers — like Parsippany, Bridgewater, Cranbury, Plainsboro —that are nearly impossible to get to without a car, or without taking a very long bus ride with multiple transfers.
We’ve discussed towns’ reluctance to honor the affordable housing guidelines under the state’s Council on Affordable Housing, an agency within the Department of Community Affairs, documented the whole sordid Mt. Laurel affair from “1975 through the present in Shelterforce“http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/134/mtlaurel.html, and the growing public resistance to, and the oft-times ill-conceived implementation of the plan, but you can never say it enough: if towns are willing to create new job opportunities within their own borders, they need to work with developers in employing COAH’s growth share formula in order to build available housing for a growing population.