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Courts Weigh in on Affordable Housing Struggle

home equity

Across the nation, consumers are looking for answers regarding the shortage of available homes.

In San Francisco, start-up company Boxouse [1] is transforming shipping containers into residences as part of the tiny homes trend.

In New York, some adults are harking back to their college days by living in dorms [2] meant for professionals who desire communal living to cut-down on costs.

Now, some New Jersey residents are pushing back against the affordability problem in another way—by asking the court system to outline affordable housing requirements.

According to GOVERNING [3], a Mercer County Judge Mary Jacobson recently ordered the municipalities of Princeton and West Windsor to add 155,000 affordable housing units by 2025.

"Lower-income households are not going to be excluded in the way that lots of wealthy towns hope to," Kevin Walsh, executive director of the Fair Share Housing Center, told GOVERNING.

Judge Jacobson’s ruling is part of a broader movement in the state to address housing inequality. In 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ordered municipalities that hadn’t met their lower- and middle-income housing requirements to submit plans to do so. According to GOVERNING, there are still 100 municipalities that haven’t fulfilled their obligations.

Earlier in the year, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy [4] encouraged developers to submit proposals to help extremely low-income individual and families with special needs and announced a grant of $5,599,220 in National Housing Trust Fund dollars to support approved projects.

While we'll need to wait and see if other municipalities follow the precedent, Judge Jacobson set, it’s clear that housing affordability is a hot topic.

Recently, Fannie Mae [5] added to the discussion by announcing the formation of an Expert Advisory Panel to address the issue.

“Affordable housing is not an isolated issue. It requires a broad set of solutions and dedicated individuals,” said Maria Evans, VP, Sustainable Communities Partnership and Innovation. “We have brought together a stellar group of experts representing a diverse range of backgrounds and industries. All will bring an important perspective to the panel that will take us one step closer to improve access to affordable, sustainable communities.”