Affordable housing advocates criticize rich towns

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A new report by affordable housing advocates found that 34 New Jersey towns fighting the state's recently revised quotas are mostly wealthy suburban enclaves seeking to exclude lower-income residents.

The report by the Fair Share Housing Center blasted towns that are challenging the new Council on Affordable Housing rules even though the number of affordable units required in many of those towns actually decreases by an average of 20 percent under the new rules.

"These towns have been assigned reduced obligations, but they are complaining the loudest," said Adam Gordon, the author of the report.

The Fair Share Housing Center said many of the towns fighting the rules are places where the community's own police, teachers and secretaries can't afford to live.

Mike McNeil, who heads the state NAACP Housing Committee, said the legal battle represents a concerted effort to keep out the poor.

"It's the time to fight back and say enough is enough," he said.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities criticized the report for "distorting data from 34 municipalities" when more than 200 have pledged to appeal the regulations.

Gov. Jon Corzine last month signed legislation revising the state's affordable housing law to stop suburban towns from being able to pay cities to provide their share of affordable housing.

Advocates for the poor said the revised law finally opens the suburbs to poor and minority residents as the state Supreme Court intended in a series of decisions in the 1970s and '80s that outlawed zoning aimed at keeping out the poor and required communities to have plans that include space for low-income residents.

However, critics said the new requirements won't help the poor, will cost taxpayers and may force suburban communities to erect housing on soccer fields and parks.

The Sierra Club also opposes the new regulations, which Executive Director Jeff Tittel said will force development in environmentally sensitive areas.




Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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