HOWELL – Three state legislators serving Howell Township – Senator Bob Singer and Assemblymen Sean Kean and Dave Rible – are introducing a bill that reauthorizes the use of regional contribution agreements, or RCAs, in order to help municipalities meet their fair share housing obligations.
“Municipalities, and more importantly, taxpayers, should be afforded a say in this process that could drastically increase municipal expenses,” said Kean (R-Monmouth). “RCAs would at least offer towns a common sense approach that might allow them to create a plan that actually suits their community and taxpayers.”
The bill comes on the heels of a recent public meeting in Howell Township on the topic of affordable housing, where building plans from 16 developers were shown to residents. Most of the plans, which are now posted on the township’s website, offer inclusionary housing, meaning that only a percentage of the housing – around 15 to 25 percent – would be dedicated to low-income families.
The housing plans are preliminary and no action has been taken to develop any of the projects. That being said, many residents at the meeting felt that Howell has been developed enough and urged officials to fight the state-mandated affordable housing obligations. Officials, in response, said they were only following state orders.
Before they were deemed illegal by legislature in 2008, RCAs provided a way for municipalities to meet their affordable housing obligations by transferring up to 50 percent of their housing credits to other towns. Receiving towns could benefit from the transfer by using the money to renovate their existing affordable housing developments and place new projects closer to mass transit.
In Howell’s case, it paid the city of Asbury Park on a per-unit fee to satisfy 102 fair share credits, instead of building low-income units in its own suburban town.
“Allowing the use of RCAs is a reasonable approach that helps satisfy new housing quotas and provides valuable funding to rehabilitate existing affordable housing,” said Rible (R- Monmouth). “Towns are being mandated to provide this housing that could lead to increased property taxes, overcrowded schools and a strain on municipal services.”
An additional meeting to discuss Howell’s affordable housing obligations is scheduled for May 16 at 7 p.m. at Middle School North, 501 Squankum-Yellow Brook Road.