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Analysis of Impediments to

Fair Housing Choice

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on:

• Race or Color
• National Origin
• Familial Status
• Handicap
• Religion
• Sex

Submitted by:
The County of Morris
Division of Community Development
2010

DRAFT
Summary of Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and
Corresponding Proposed Accomplishments and Actions by the Fair
Housing Committee of Morris County of Morris

Introduction: The Morris County Division of Community Development is a member of the


Fair Housing Committee of Morris County. The mission of the Fair Housing Committee is to act
as an advocate and educator for fair housing.

Impediment
ƒ The lack of affordable housing, particularly for low- and middle-income households, seniors,
people with disabilities, single head of households, and young adults.

Accomplishments since 2005: The Housing Alliance, under the umbrella of the United
Way of Morris County, whose mission is to promote policy change, increase public knowledge,
and develop innovative solutions to affordable housing has continued to do so. Annual bus tours
to showcase the latest affordable housing achievements, educational forums for providers and a
continued dedication to finding solutions to the affordable housing crisis remain the Alliance’s
top priorities.

Action: It is recommended that the Housing Partnership continue to update annually, and
distribute the “Morris County Apartment Resource Guide” and the “Morris County Income
Restricted Senior Housing Guide.”

Action: Continue participation in the Housing Alliance identifying new ways to provide
affordable housing beyond construction, e.g. increased tenant based rental assistance, advocating for
increased project based rental assistance.

Impediment
The greatest need of non-homeless special needs populations includes accessible/adaptable
housing for persons with severe mental illness and the developmentally disabled, victims of
domestic violence, veterans, people transitioning out of homeless shelters and the frail elderly.

Proposed Action: The Committee will continue to support its members who serve
populations with special needs, and partner with the Housing Alliance and the Human Services
Advisory Committee to increase the awareness of the need for affordable housing for all. Urge
all local housing authorities to apply for Mainstream Program funds to better serve the housing
needs of the special needs population.

Impediment
United Way of Morris County identified the lack of housing accessible to affordable
transportation to get to jobs and services as an important housing choice issue, particularly for

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senior citizens, people with physical disabilities and mental illness, low-income families and any
other resident who does not have ready access to their own automobile.

Accomplishments since 2005: United Way published their 2005 Community


Transportation Survey Report, “It’s Not Always Easy…Getting From Here To There.” More
recently the United Way published “Introducing ALICE: Asset Limited Income Constrained and
Employed” 2009, reinforces the restrictions imposed upon low income households when
constrained by poorly performing vehicles, lack of vehicles and unreliable mass transportation.

Proposed Action: Recommend The United Way update A.L.I.C.E. annually.


- Analyzing and implementing proven new transportation solutions (especially vehicle and
driver sharing models, and models which increase collaboration and coordination among
agencies and overall cost effectiveness) that will benefit the most needy residents and
make best use of available funds and other resources.
- Exploring methods to increase automobile ownership among low-income residents.
- Advocating for new or increased funding sources for existing and new community
transportation solutions.

Impediment
The members of the North Central Jersey Association of Realtors appear to be in compliance
with Fair Housing laws and affirmatively marketing housing in the County, although more
empirical data and a closer relationship with this business sector would be helpful.

Proposed Action: The Fair Housing Committee will continue to forge relationships with the
local Board of Realtors, as well as representatives from the Credit Regulatory Banking industry
to insure affirmative marketing, barrier-free housing and affirmative employment of minorities.

Impediment
Due to the backlash from Sub prime lending practices and the subsequent foreclosure crisis,
banks have tightened their lending guidelines to the point where obtaining a standard fixed
mortgage is very difficult. This further impedes the process of acquiring affordable housing for
those who may have been viable candidates.

Proposed Action: Emphasis must be placed upon a mandatory counseling process for all
potential homebuyers. This can aid in a candidate setting goals in terms of savings, obtaining
good credit and a knowledge of how to eliminate credit obstacles toward home ownership.

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Impediment
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that 64 discrimination cases
had been filed pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (Title 8) in New Jersey from 2004-2010. The
breakdown of protected classes includes Disability (24), Family Status (11), National Origin (9),
Race/Gender (19) and Sex (1). 26 cases have been dismissed for No Cause.

Proposed Action: The Fair Housing Committee will continue monitoring bias crime data
from various sources: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, the New Jersey Division
on Civil Rights and the Morris County’s Prosecutors Office.

Accomplishments since 2005: The Committee has sponsored the following events: A
breakfast honoring landlords, renter tester training, a cable presentation on fair housing and the
annual essay contest where local high school students write about anti-discrimination. Annually,
during Fair Housing Month, an informational mailing regarding fair housing is sent out to Morris
County municipalities.

Proposed Action: The Committee is planning a tenant/landlord seminar focusing on laws


related to renting in April 2010. The majority of the cases filed were discrimination against
persons with disabilities. The Committee should determine if there is a pattern to these
complaints (e.g. barriers to accessibility, lack of knowledge by landlords of fair housing laws.
etc).

Impediment
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights reported that from 2005-2007 there have been 557
housing complaints from the Morris County area. County specific information is not generally
available, however.1

Accomplishments since 2005: The Human Relations Commission’s website continues to


provide links to federal and state agencies to allow people to file discrimination complaints.
Other links and housing resources are also available on this site.

Proposed Action: The Committee should monitor number and type of complaints filed.

Impediment
Public policy, while overtly beneficial, can present barriers to affordable housing, such as:

ƒ Insufficient Federal and State resources for affordable housing initiatives, such as programs
and resources to build housing, provide rental assistance and tax credits for homebuyers.

1
State of New Jersey, Dept. of Law & Safety, Division on Civil Rights

4
Proposed Action: The Division and Committee should continue to advance the affordable
housing agenda with the county’s freeholders and state representatives.

Impediment
ƒ New Jersey's property taxes are the highest in the nation by the per capita measure and 2nd
highest as a percentage of income.

ƒ Zoning ordinances that are restrictive rather than flexible such as those with provisions for
bulk or use requirements, density constraints, or age restrictions on developments. Teardowns
are another phenomenon which are interfering with the filtering down of housing stock that
had previously been relied upon to supply starter homes in the housing stock.

ƒ Diminishing developable land: The County is largely built out with the only remaining
developable land consisting of non conforming lots and environmentally constrained land.

Proposed Action: The Division of Community Development will continue working with the
Housing Alliance to advocate for affordable housing related legislation and to promote
innovative land use, e.g. elder cottages, adaptive re-use and green design.

Impediment
ƒ The New Jersey Highlands Act restricts development within the delineated Highlands
Protection Area. With the diminishment of available land, the cost of remaining land will rise,
affecting existing and future stock of affordable housing.

ƒ The New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan, has had influence over land
use through its designation of all areas in NJ as 1 of 5 different Planning Areas each with
associated growth expectations. Implications for development constraints indicate an increase
in costs for affordable housing.

ƒ Development approval process, e.g. state and regional agencies, county and municipal
planning boards, utility authorities and soil conservation districts.

ƒ Impact fees associated with new development e.g., roads, sewer, water and other public
facilities, result in the costs being passed along to the new homeowners and renters.

ƒ NYMBYism against affordable housing proposals.

Accomplishments since 2005: Beginning in 2005, the Committee has conducted tours of
affordable housing sites in the county, for local officials for the purpose of demystifying the
stigma of affordable housing.

Proposed Action: In an effort to ameliorate negative effects of public policies that serve as
barriers to affordable housing the Committee and Division will maintain their participation in the
dialogue around policy-related barriers. In addition, they will collaborate with housing providers

5
to propose innovative housing schemes such as mixed use, rehabilitation or redevelopment and
green design.

Introduction
The Fair Housing Act of 1995 mandates that local governments applying for direct financial
assistance must develop a Fair Housing Plan. Per the certifications submitted by the County of
Morris and the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills with the Morris County Consolidated Plan
for 2010-2014, the County is submitting its revised analysis of impediments to fair housing
choice.

This revision, corresponding with the submission of the 2010-2014 Consolidated Plan, provides
a review of the process, the status of the previous report’s recommendations, and identifies the
current impediments and proposed actions intended to overcome the effects of said impediments.

Thirty-seven of the county’s 39 municipalities participate in HUD’s Urban County program,


through which they can apply for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG); all 39
municipalities participate in the HOME Program.2 Nineteen percent of the 99 census tracts
comprising Morris County are eligible for CDBG programs due to the low/moderate level of
residents’ income.

The current analysis commenced in December 2009 with the input of the Fair Housing
Committee of the Morris County Human Relations Commission, facilitated by staff of Morris
County Division of Community Development.

The Fair Housing Committee meets monthly and is working on several projects to advance fair
housing. It has ultimate oversight and input on the findings of the advisory board. A list of
participants and minutes of the meetings are available in the offices of the Division of
Community Development.

IMPEDIMENTS TO FAIR HOUSING CHOICE


Impediments to Fair Housing Choice are defined as any actions, omissions, or decisions taken
because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin that restrict
housing choices or the availability of housing choice.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ANALYSIS


The Fair Housing Committee, a subcommittee of the Morris County Human Relations
Commission, has been working to combat housing discrimination primarily through educational
events. The committee consists of professionals from a wide range of social service
organizations, housing authorities, local businesses and concerned members of the community.

2
HOME Investment Partnerships Program

6
The previous Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing proposed that a brochure be developed
and distributed in order to assure that fair housing information be available throughout the
county. A brochure (in both English and Spanish) was developed and continues to be distributed.
In 2005, the Committee coordinated a countywide tour of affordable housing sites. This was so
successful The Housing Committee and the Human Relations Commission have updated their
websites, offering federal and state fair housing law and a link for people to report a bias crime
(http://www.morrishumanrelations.org)3 as well as a phone number for the Bias Crime Unit of
N.J. (609) 984-4497. Several members also participate in the Housing Alliance of Morris
County. The Housing Alliance of Morris County assumed responsibility and has expanded the
concept.
In conducting this analysis, the Housing Committee has drawn on input from its members, and
researched data available from several federal and state sources. Data for comparable time
periods were used to allow for time relevant reporting.

COMMUNITY PROFILE
Morris County, New Jersey’s seventh largest county, is situated among rolling hills, and small to
mid-sized towns, approximately 30 miles northwest of New York City. The County comprises an
area of approximately 481 square miles with a population of 487,5484. There are 39
municipalities, varying in population from the Borough of Victory Gardens with 1,486 residents
to the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills with 50,431 (2006-2008 data).5

As per the US Census, American Community Survey 2006-2008 Data Profile, the population’s
major constituent groups consist of 3.2% Black or African American, 8.3% Asian, and 83.5%
White, in terms of race. When considering origin and race, 10.5% of the total population is
Latino.

There are 61,967 married couple families with children under the age of 18, or 35.4% of all
families. In addition, 1.1% of families with children under the age of 18 are single parent, male
headed households and 8.3% are single parent, female head of households.6

12.7% of the population is 65 years of age or older.7 There are 1735 households with grandparent
responsible for the care of their grandchildren under the age of 18.8 Nine percent of the
population, at least 5 years of age, has a disability9. There were 694 living cases of HIV/AIDS.10

The median household income is $97,565.11

3
Housing.asp.
4
US Census, American Community Survey July 2006-2008 Data Profile of Morris County (excluding those living
in institutions, college dormitories, and other group quarters).
5
Data Set: Census 2006-2008 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data.
6
ACS, 2006-2008.
7
ACS 2006-2008, Population and Housing Profile: Morris County, New Jersey.
8
ACS 2006-2008
9
ACS, 2004.
10
NJ Division of HIV/AIDS Services, 2009 (Cumulative through June 30, 2009).
11
ACS, 2006-2008.

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A typical breakdown of income groups includes: extremely low-income at 30% of median
income ($26,300), low-income at 50% of median income ($43,800) and moderate-income at
80% of median income ($64,000). The unemloyment rate for Morris County is 7.1%.12

LOCATION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING


FINDINGS:
Lack of Affordable Housing

The lack of affordable housing is widespread, affecting low- and middle-income households,
seniors, people with disabilities, single head of households, and young adults. The United Way
of Morris County conducted an analysis, “Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed
(ALICE)” which reported a shortfall of 10,000 affordable housing units within Morris County,
based on calculations from the American Community Survey 2007, and the Housing Partnership,
2007.

Despite the collapse in the real estate market, prices remain out of reach for low to moderate
income households. There is a 1% vacancy rate for affordable housing units both for rent and for
sale.13 Income restricted housing units, both rental and owner occupied, are in high demand with
waiting lists prevalent. This holds true for Mount Laurel units, special needs units, public
housing, and transitional and permanent supportive housing for the homeless.

Slightly more than one out of 3 households is paying 30% or more of their income on housing
costs.14 Current convention identifies 30% as the threshold, beyond which constitutes a burden to
a household budget, meaning that households are forced to forgo other life essentials such as
food, medical care and transportation.

Data revealed disproportionate needs, in terms of housing problems (a housing cost burden
greater than 30% of income and/or overcrowding and/or a dwelling without complete kitchen or
plumbing facilities) primarily among Latino populations. This is particularly evident among the
30.1% or less-50% AMI categories of Owners and Renters equalling 4,730 households.15

A survey on restricted income rental units for senior citizens was conducted by the Housing
Partnership for Morris County in 2009. Of the 32 residential complexes, 28 had a waiting list.

Income restricted for sale units for seniors were located in four housing complexes. Two of the
complexes had a waiting list; another had a waiting list that was closed.

The Housing Partnership also conducted an affordable apartment survey and published their
results in a guide. As of December 2009, there were 19 rental complexes with "Mt. Laurel" units,
that is to say, units which are income restricted. Each of the complexes had a waiting list.
12
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Labor Force Statistics, L.A.U.S Local Area
Unemployment Statistics 12/08-1/10 effective 11/09. HUD Fair Market Rent Table-2009
13
Housing Partnership of Morris County-March 2010
14
CHAS 2009
15
CHAS 2009.

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According to a database developed by the county’s Department of Planning and Development,16
there are 215 developments in Morris County that have 6,060 low/moderate income units that
have been either completed, approved, proposed or are under construction.
Of these individual developments:
ƒ 12 are buy down properties;
ƒ 20 are Habitat for Humanity projects
ƒ 49 have age restricted units
ƒ 114 have rental units
ƒ 80 have for sale units.

In terms of fair market rent (FMR), HUD provides annually updated levels for jurisdictions to
apply to grant programs. Morris County is included in the Newark, NJ PMSA17 with levels set at:
* a studio unit at $869,
* a 1-bedroom unit at $1,048,
* a 2-bedroom unit at $1,213, and
* a 3+bedroom unit at $1,447.

In order to afford the fair market rent for a 2 bedroom unit, a household would need to work 129
hours per week at minimum wage, or earn $48,087 per year or $23.12 per hour.18

Public Housing units are affordable to households at the "uncapped" 80% or less of the median
income for the area. Approximately 40% are designated for low-income households. These units
have affordability controls for at least 20 years.

Public Housing Authorities' housing stock is as follows:


0 & 1 bedroom 2 bedrooms 3+ bedrooms Total
* Boonton 42 18 14 74
* Dover 59 - - 59
* Madison 79 32 23 134
* Morristown 26 79 101 206
* Morris County 181 52 74 307
TOTAL UNITS 386 180 212 780

There are currently 2,665 people on the waiting list for both public housing and Section 8
vouchers. The number of Section 8 vouchers funded has been steadily decreasing, accompanied
by an increasing need.

16
Results do not include homeless shelters or homes for people with special needs. They do include public housing,
Habitat for Humanity projects, buy down properties and age restricted units. Results include projects that have been
completed, those that are under construction, have been approved or merely proposed.
17
Newark, NJ PMSA-Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area
18
National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2009.

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Cost and Availability of Single Family Homes
Of the 173,980 occupied housing units, 76.8% are owner occupied units and 23.2%19 are rental
units, a decrease in owner occupied and an increase in rental since the 2000 census.
Approximately 53.9% of the housing stock was built prior to 1970.20

Home ownership among both low-income and moderate-income households remains low. The
median sales price for a single family home in the 3rd quarter of 2009 was $436,300, a 21%
decrease from the same period in 200621. Median Household Income, on the other hand, only
increased 10.1% in 2008.22

Proposed Action: United Way of Morris County continues to support the Housing Alliance
to promote knowledge of and action around affordable housing issues. This Alliance’s mission is
to promote policy change, increase public knowledge, and develop innovative solutions to the
complex issue of affordable housing. Membership in the Alliance is open to agencies and
organizations actively promoting affordable housing solutions in Morris County. 23 It is

19
CHAS 2009
20
ACS, 2006..
21
New Jersey Association of Realtors
22
ACS 2006-2008
23
The Housing Alliance is currently comprised of the following members: Capital One Bank, Community Hope,
Inc. Homeless Solutions, Inc. Housing Partnership for Morris County, Interfaith Food Pantry, Madison Affordable
Housing Corporation, Morris County Affordable Housing Corp, Morris Habitat for Humanity, NewBridge Services,
Inc, New Jersey Natural Gas, Somerset Hills Bank, The Rose House, TD Bank,N.A, United Way of Morris County,
Affiliates include: The ARC/Morris Chapter, Boonton Housing Authority, Interfaith Council for Homeless Families,
Jersey Battered Women’s Service, Jewish Community Housing Corp., Mental Health Association of Morris County,
Morristown Neighborhood House, Morris Area Development Group, Morris County Division of Community

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recommended that the Committee increase collaboration with the Alliance in order to maximize
resources and satisfy both agencies’ objectives.

It is recommended that the Housing Partnership continue to update annually, the “Morris County
Apartment Resource Guide” and the “Morris County Income Restricted Senior Housing Guide.”

Accessible/Adaptable Housing
FINDINGS:
The greatest need of non-homeless special needs populations include housing for persons with
severe mental illness, the developmentally disabled, victims of domestic violence, veterans,
people transitioning out of homeless shelters and the frail elderly.

ƒ According to the American Community Survey, there are 62,894 (12.9%) people over the age
of 65 in the county24.
ƒ Twelve percent of the population, at least 5 years of age, has a disability.25
ƒ There were 990 cases of HIV/AIDS.26
ƒ 10-20% of the general population and up to 30% of the disabled population have a substance
abuse disorder.27

Housing stock available to serve persons with disabilities are categorized accordingly:
Beds for the Physically Disabled 57
Beds for the Developmentally Disabled 365
Beds for the Mentally Ill 468

Housing available to serve persons with HIV/AIDS and their families is offered by the Eric John
House, which provides transitional housing and/or supportive services to 24 individuals.

Proposed Action: The Committee will continue to support its members who serve
populations with special needs, and partner with the Housing Alliance to increase the awareness
of the need for affordable housing for all.

TRANSPORTATION
Proximity of housing to transportation to jobs and services is an important housing choice issue,
according to a survey conducted by United Way of Morris County. Regularly scheduled public
transportation is limited to seven New Jersey Transit/Morris Metro bus lines, the Lakeland and
Community Coach, New York City buses and three train lines that run east-west. Special

Development, Morristown Division of Rent Leveling, NORWESCAP, St. Clare’s Hospital Supportive Housing
Program, United Cerebral Palsy of Morris/Somerset, Urban League of Morris County-Fair Housing and the U.S.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
24
ACS 2008
25
ACS 2008
26
NJ Division of HIV/AIDS Services, 2009.
27
Morris County Comprehensive Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Plan

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accommodations are available to the elderly and disabled populations through the Morris Area
Paratransit System (MAPS) and thirty-five (35) municipalities provide transportation services for
their elderly residents. .

FINDINGS: The shortage of easily available, affordable and accessible transportation options
has long been perceived by many community organizations and non-profit human service
agencies as a limitation on the ability of some segments of the Morris County population to live
fully independent and self-sufficient lifestyles. Groups experiencing transportation challenges
include senior citizens, people with physical disabilities and mental illness, low-income families
and any other resident who does not have ready access to their own automobile.

In 2004 United Way of Morris County conducted an assessment of the transportation needs of
residents who receive services from county and municipal agencies and non-profit organizations.
As a result of these efforts by the United Way in 2005 the Rideprovide and the Mobility
Connector Programs were established. Due to lack of funding these programs were later
discontinued.
Specific needs remain relevant:

- The need for improved transportation for medical appointments, shopping,


employment, and social services.
- Transportation during weekdays and weekends.
- Transportation for seniors, people with disabilities and mental illness and members
of the Latino population.

United Way surveyed the types of services that agencies provided for their clients. Results
indicated services such as support for owning and operating their own vehicles, providing travel
vouchers to consumers and reimbursing their consumers for travel costs.

The County of Morris spent $240,000.in 2009 to subsidize New Jersey Transit bus service. The
Department of Human Services’ Para-Transit Service for seniors and disabled persons, in 2009,
provided 3,622 rides for those in the Nutrition Program and 78,061 rides for the public, totaling
$1,425,717, funded by the State of New Jersey through the Casino Revenue Grant.

Proposed Action
- Efforts will be continued to analyze and implement proven new transportation
solutions (especially vehicle and driver sharing models, and models which increase
collaboration and coordination among agencies and overall cost effectiveness) that
will make the best use of available funds and other resources.
- Methods will be explored to increase automobile ownership among low-income
residents.
- Efforts will continue to seek out and advocate for new or increased funding sources
for existing and new community transportation solutions.

12
NORTH CENTRAL JERSEY ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
The local realtors association, now the North Central Jersey Association of Realtors, has
institutionalized fair housing training as part of their new member orientation. The Association
no longer uses the voluntary affirmative marketing agreement (VAMA) but has organized a
regional Cultural Diversity Committee which offers educational training. Individual offices
continue to use the “Prospect Equal Service Report,” although it is voluntary. The New Jersey
Association of REALTORS Housing Opportunity Task Force created the Housing Opportunity
Resource Guide to help prospective buyers identify housing programs available in New Jersey.

Proposed Action: The Committee will invite a representative from the North Central Jersey
Association of Realtors to discuss affirmative marketing, barrier-free housing and affirmative
employment of minorities.

Lending Institutions
There are over 30 different commercial banks and savings and loans serving the residents of
Morris County. Due to the number of these institutions and limited staff, the committee targeted
one major bank, Valley National Bank, which has a strong presence throughout Morris County,
within the Newark MSA.28

FINDING: Valley National Bank has 21 branches located throughout the county, including
several in low- and moderate-income census tracts. The bank offers a variety of services
including loan products for low- and moderate-income persons or borrowers purchasing homes
in low- and moderate-income geographies.

There are 19 (19.2%) out of 99 Census tracts that are characterized as Low/Moderate income in
the county. A review of the HMDA data shows loan approvals and denials per census tracts in
the county. Data for 2008 revealed an even distribution of both, with no blatant occurrences of
fewer approvals or more denials in low/moderate- income tracts.

The majority of loans issued in the county were for refinancing with the dominant reason for
denials being poor credit history.

BIAS INCIDENTS
The Committee investigated evidence of discrimination by way of frequency of bias crime, rental
patterns at multiple dwelling units and the number of fair housing complaints submitted.

FINDINGS: Incidents of bias crime29 were obtained from the 2008 data from the Office of the
Morris County Prosecutor30 In Morris County, in 2008, there were 48 incidents of bias crime
reported, an increase from 10 in 2003.

28
Metropolitan Statistical Area
29
Bias crimes are those having a racial, religious, ethnic, physical handicap, sexual or gender component.
30
Office of the Prosecutor, Morris County

13
Proposed Action: The Fair Housing Committee will continue monitoring bias crime data
from various sources: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, New Jersey Division on
Civil Rights and the Morris County’s Prosecutors Office.

FINDINGS: Tenant race and ethnicity data were obtained from the state on multiple dwelling
rental properties with over 25 units.31 The annual report for the county provided data for more
than 100 properties. The main observation to be made is the difference in racial composition of
the rental population as opposed to the percent racial composition in the general population.

Multi Dwelling Unit Report Census (American Community Survey, 2006-2008)


Black 9.4% 3.2%
Latino 11.4% 10.5%
Asian 18.0% 8.3%
White 60.4% 83.5%

Proposed Action: Overall, there does not appear to be discrimination by the owners who
submitted reports to the Division of Civil rights. The Division of Community Development will
maintain dialogue with housing agencies and collect data on fair housing complaints through its
annual monitoring of projects.

FINDINGS: The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that 64


discrimination cases have been filed pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (Title 8) in New Jersey
2004-2010. The breakdown of protected classes includes Disability (24), Family Status (11),
National Origin (9), Race/Gender (19) and Sex (1).

Proposed Action: The majority of the cases filed were discrimination against persons with
disabilities. The Committee should determine if there is a pattern to these complaints (e.g.
barriers to accessibility, lack of knowledge by landlords of fair housing laws. etc).

FINDINGS: Data were requested from the New Jersey Fair Housing Council on housing
complaints. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights from 2005 through 2007, there were
approximately 557 complaints from the Morris County area. County specific information is not
generally available, however.32

Proposed Action: The Human Relations Commission website has a direct link to file a
complaint, precluding the need to travel to the offices of the Division of Civil Rights in Paterson
or Newark, but necessitating access to the internet. The Committee should monitor number and
type of complaints filed, if any.

31
NJ Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Civil Rights, Multiple Dwelling Unit Report, 2008.
32
New Jersey Division on Civil Rights-2007

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Barriers
The cost of housing and the incentives to develop, maintain, or improve affordable housing are
affected by public policies.

ƒ Lack of Federal and State resources for affordable housing initiatives such as programs and
resources to build housing, reduce excessive rent or mortgage burdens.

ƒ Diminishing developable land, as reported by the county’s Department of Planning,


Development and Technology. During 2004, the combination of towns rezoning for large lots
or preserving tracts for open space resulted in housing construction hitting a record low.

ƒ Property taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the nation by the per capita measure and 2nd
highest as a percentage of income (NJ Tax Foundation). As property taxes claim a greater
percentage of housing costs, both owners and renters are confronted with housing that is no
longer affordable.

ƒ Zoning ordinances that are restrictive rather than flexible such as those with provisions for
bulk or use requirements, density constraints, or age restrictions on developments. Teardowns
are another phenomenon which is interfering with the filtering down of housing stock that
had previously been relied upon to supply starter homes in the housing stock.

Proposed Action: The Committee and Division, in collaboration with the Housing Alliance,
should advocate for innovative zoning, which would allow for mixed use development, senior
cottage additions, and prohibition against tear downs

ƒ Development approval process, e.g. state and regional agencies, county and municipal
planning boards, utility authorities and soil conservation districts. The Builders league of
South Jersey claim that the state's permitting process, which can be costly and time
consuming, for the development of single family homes, at times, alone renders housing
unaffordable.

Proposed Action: The Committee should continue the conversation with the county’s
freeholders to retain the county’s Regional Contribution Agreement monetary award. If this
money were to be utilized within the county, it would benefit income-eligible households meet
their housing needs and the county by retaining economically diverse working force and
neighborhoods.

ƒ The New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan, has had influence over land
use through its designation of all areas in NJ as 1 of 5 different Planning Areas each with
specific characteristics and associated growth expectations. While the full impact of the plan
has not been clearly established, implications for development constraints indicate an increase
in costs for affordable housing.

ƒ The New Jersey Highlands Act. The Act includes a delineated Highlands Protection Area and
a Highlands Plan Area, the former imposing severe restrictions on development, the latter
allowing the option to municipalities of instituting restrictions. While growth is not intended

15
to be stopped, but rather diverted to existing developed areas, it is anticipated that not only
will development be prevented, the cost of remaining land will rise, again affecting existing
and future stock of affordable housing.

ƒ Impact fees have been used by municipalities as a means of recouping the costs associated
with new development e.g., roads, sewer, water and other public facilities. While developers
initially bear the cost of impact fees, this is passed along to the new homeowners and renters.

ƒ NYMBYism: the very term "affordable" conjures up such negative connotations for many
people that there is very often strong public opposition to affordable housing proposals.

Proposed Action: In an effort to remove or ameliorate negative effects of public policies that
serve as barriers to affordable housing the Division along with the Committee will maintain its
participation in the dialogue around policy issues. In addition, it will collaborate with housing
providers to propose innovative housing schemes that involve mixed use, rehabilitation or
redevelopment.

16