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Council on Affordable Housing
About Council on Affordable Housing (COAH)
On November 22, 2004 the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) adopted its third round Substantive Rules (N.J.A.C.4:94) and Procedural Rules (N.J.A.C. 5:95). The rules adopt a grown share approach to affordable housing, requiring one unit of affordable housing for every eight market-rate units and one affordable unit for every 25 new jobs, as measured by new or expanded non-residential construction. A municipality's growth share obligation is calculated using the State Planning Commission's population and employment growth projections, which are adjusted over time to a municipality's actual growth. If the difference between the projected and actual growth results in a affordable housing shortage of more than 10%, COAH may require a municipality to amend its plan to reflect the new numbers at the time of the third, fifth, and eighth year review.
Balance of Family and Senior Housing
The calculation of affordable senior units has been adjusted in response to concerns about the availability of affordable housing for families. While the new rules still allow up to 50% of a municipality's growth share obligation to be age-restricted, the total amount of senior units has been limited to 50% of the municipality's housing stock.
Balance of Rental and for-Sale Housing
The required percentage of affordable rental housing in a municipality's fair share plan remains unchanged at 25%, although new incentives have been devised to generate more rental housing. Instead of providing a rental bonus credit for each unit up to the required 25%, a two for one rental bonus will be provided for municipalities that produce rental housing above the minimum requirement.
Very Low-Income Housing
COAH will offer a two-for-one bonus for very low-income (defined as 30% below the region's median income) rental and for-sale units. In addition, municipalities will be required to apply 10% of all development fees to the construction of very low-income housing.
Consistency with State Plan
COAH's third round rules are linked to the State Plan in three fundamental ways. First, COAH calculates a municipality's growth share using the State Planning Commission's population and employment growth projections. Second, COAH requires that affordable housing developments be located on environmentally suitable sites as defined by the State-level agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pinelands Commission, the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. COAH designates Planning Areas 1 and 2, and designated centers as appropriate areas for zones that allow density increases onsite to accommodate affordable housing and for inclusionary housing developments with more than 1 affordable unit per 8 market-rate units (including municipally-sponsored projects).Otherwise, a waiver must be obtained from COAH based on a recommendation from the Office of Smart Growth. Third, COAH will conduct a review every three years to ensure that municipalities are meeting their affordable housing need. By the first third year review municipalities are required to obtain initial plan endorsement from the Office of Smart Growth or risk having substantive certification revoked.
- Second round affordable housing that has not been built will not generate a growth share obligation when built
- An affordable housing partnership program has been devised to encourage voluntary collaboration between two or more municipalities to provide affordable housing
- A regional asset test has been established in order to better determine who is eligible for affordable housing
- Changes to procedural rules have been designed to reduce the amount of time required for a municipality's plan to be reviewed. Changes include setting realistic deadlines, limiting mediation time, and ensuring a timely turnaround by COAH staff in issuing reports and reviewing filings and petitions