In the near future we will devote a full post to this topic. For now, please find excerpts below that explain why a ‘fair share’ – or equitable distribution of affordable housing homes and rentals – is such an important issue for integrationists.
Definition of the Issue
Affordable housing is a justice issue pertaining to race, socio economics, age, family style and more. There should be decent housing for everyone, but what is decent is very dependent on the location and community.
In order to be affordable, housing should not exceed about one-third of a household’s income. By those standards, most of us are being sunk by our current housing costs! In today’s economy, those who are in need of both affordable rental and affordable owner units include students, elderly, parents, many types of workers, civil servants and indeed much of the tax paying middle class! This is not a question just about how to house the very poor.
Fair share housing is part of the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Era. Fair Share is the idea that:
• There is a (growing) need for affordable housing in an entire region or State.
• One possible response to this need is to have just a few of the communities provide most of the affordable units, concentrating them in certain areas.
• But a much better response – much fairer, more sustainable, more conducive to long-term economic growth and social stability for everyone – is if the affordable units are spread among all of the communities in the region or State. This is each community housing its “fair share.”
New Jersey as an Example
Right now, New Jersey needs more total affordable units AND too much of our existing affordable housing is concentrated in too few places. This is true despite 60,000 units of Fair Share housing being created in recent decades – more than any other state (except California, which is much bigger than NJ) – thanks mainly to the Mt. Laurel Doctrine established by the courts in the 1970s and 1980s.
But for such a populous and dense place with such high market rate housing prices, New Jersey still needs a lot more Fair Share affordable units! It has been estimated that more than 115,000 affordable homes are needed!
The unfortunate messages from many municipalities and the Governor’s office (with a minority of state legislators) is that municipalities should be able to choose based on their own criteria and desires whether they want to have housing for moderate and lower-income New Jerseyans. This is a bad policy that will harm our State.
Our Friends at FSHC
For more information on the details of Fair Share Housing Center’s history and ongoing efforts, please see www.fairsharehousing.org
More on this topic in the future,
-E and E