Pending legislation aimed at establishing the new fourth round of rules for affordable housing has taken a major step forward. On February 8, the Assembly Appropriations Committee considered the bill, made significant amendments, and moved the bill forward to a vote by the full Assembly. The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill, A-4, on Monday, February 12.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee could consider the companion bill, S-50, as early as its hearing on February 22. If the committee considers and votes favorably on the bill, the following potential voting session for the Senate would be March 21.

The amendments to A-4 made by the Assembly Appropriations Committee include changes to the deadlines for (i) the Department of Community Affairs’ required report on the calculations of regional need and municipal obligations for the fourth round, (ii) the designation of Mount Laurel judges, and (iii) the required actions for municipalities. The amendments also revised the process for potential disputes over a municipality’s compliance, including granting a municipality a presumption of validity in such a challenge (which is now referred to as “exclusionary zoning litigation” and is distinguished from a “builder’s remedy”).

The amendments also changed the bonus credit system for affordable housing units. Notably, the amendments decreased the maximum number of credits for age-restricted units from 15% of the total age-restricted units to 10% of the age-restricted units, but the amendments also increased the maximum number of age-restricted units allowed to satisfy a municipal obligation from 25% to 30%. The amendments also created a tenth type of bonus credit for certain 100% affordable housing developments built through municipal contributions of property or funding. However, the amendments did not change the bill’s cap on bonus credits being used to satisfy a maximum of 25% of a municipality’s prospective need.

Further, the amendments revised the deed restriction requirements. For all newly created affordable housing units, the minimum deed restriction is now 30 years. For affordable housing units which are extended for a new term of affordability, the minimum deed restriction is 20 years if the unit was initially created before October 1, 2011, and 30 years if the unit was initially created on or after October 1, 2001. The amendments to the bill did not remove the term “minimum,” leaving open the possibility that municipalities could impose longer deed restriction terms.

Additional amendments, both technical and substantive, were made by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The amended A-4 can be found here, and the Assembly Appropriations Committee statement on the bill, including a detailed list of all amendments, can be found here. My previous posts on this subject can be found here, here, and here.