In a region where property values are rising, and household incomes are not, more families are finding themselves unable to afford the cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental, or to purchase a home. Our report on the growing problem highlighted the fact that most displacement is occurring around walkable, accessible urban neighborhoods that provide walkable access to stores, services, and public transit that lower-income families need.
Fortunately, some cities are taking action to protect their most vulnerable residents from losing their homes to rising costs: Newark, NJ is one of those. The Ironbound Community Corporation pushed hard to advocate the passage of an Inclusionary Zoning ordinance to mandate set asides of 20% of new residential development as affordable, available to families earning 50% or less of the city’s median income. For the first time in years, Newark is experiencing substantial commercial and residential growth—including luxury residences that are driving up overall values—and the inclusionary zoning ordinance could not be timelier. The Regional Plan Association formally supported the initiative, and we celebrate with Ironbound CC and city officials that Newark City Council passed the ordinance on first reading on June 21st. A second reading is pending, and we look forward to its final passage into law.
This news is also being celebrated by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, a statewide organization that advocates for affordable homes for all New Jerseyans. Like Regional Plan Association, HCDNNJ is deeply committed to a region where every municipality provides housing options for families of all incomes, including families with very low, low, and moderate incomes.
We also applaud and endorse HCDNNJ’s “Build a Thriving NJ” program. The program offers a plan by which the State of NJ will be able to end the shortfall of affordable homes for Garden State residents. Build a Thriving NJ proposes that the State dedicate an allotment of $600 million/year in order to subsidize the construction of affordable homes, and it identifies existing revenue sources that the State could tap in order to raise that money. At least 200,000 affordable homes are needed right now to meet the existing level of demand, and that more will be needed in the near future as employment opportunities continue to grow in the region.
Congratulations to Ironbound CC, HCDNNJ, to the Newark Community Development Network, and to the city of Newark for taking the lead in making sure New Jerseyans can have a home they can afford.
Photo: Hahne & Company building, a mixed-use building in Newark which opened this year. The building has a residential component that includes 64 affordable home units.