Working for Smart Growth:
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Increasing Mom’s Choice of Where To Live

May 11th, 2001 by

Mothers In New Jersey

  • Hallmark alone offers a choice of 2,375 different Mother Day card designs this year.
  • Yet whether they are seniors or new to motherhood, New Jersey’s mothers (and their families) face a shrinking choice of where to live.
  • More than half of New Jersey’s communities (299) have expired plans, or no plans at all, for affordable housing.
  • At the same time, more than half of New Jersey municipalities have not issued a single permit to build multi-family housing in the past decade, in any price range.

Whether she’s looking for her first home, or struggling to stay in the community she’s always known, a New Jersey mother has limited choices when it comes to housing.

New Jersey’s affordable housing system has been a dismal failure, with a mere 26,000 homes built or under construction since 1985, by state estimate. Moreover, today’s affordable housing system pushes growth on communities that may not wish to grow, and does not require affordable housing in older communities, where the need is also acute.

A better approach to affordable housing comes through “growth share.”  Growth share requires that growing communities build affordable housing, too, as a fixed percentage of their growth.

Public support for the growth share approach is strong.  Fully 71 percent of voters statewide said they favor requiring that all new housing include at least 15 percent for low- and moderate income families in a May 2000 poll commissioned by New Jersey Future.

Had New Jersey adopted a “growth share” approach in 1985, with a requirement of 15 percent affordable units, its growing communities today would offer at least 71,122 homes affordable to moderate- and low-income families – nearly three times the results of the current system.

Extensive study of growth share communities in Montgomery County Maryland and Fairfax County Virginia has shown that creating neighborhoods of mixed incomes in such modest proportions has had no adverse impact whatsoever on the resale values of market rate homes.

New Jersey Future urges the adoption of the growth share approach. (See “20 Ways to Move NJ Toward a More Prosperous, Just and Healthy Future,” on-line at www.njfuture.org)  Applying growth share remedies alone will not supply all of the affordable housing New Jersey so desperately needs.  But it is a step in the right direction that will help communities better manage sprawling development. 

Facts Contact:
B. Tim Evans, NJF Research Director
timevansatnjfuturedotorg  (timevansatnjfuturedotorg)  

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