The Bergen Example

An example of the ideal distribution of FAM developments exists in New Jersey, and it is called Bergen County. Overall, the distribution of affordable housing is very even without a single municipality possessing more than 10.5% of the county’s FAM developments. It is true that several of the county’s municipalities have zero affordable housing developments, however the somewhat even distribution of these developments has prevented a heavy reliance on State Aid for individual municipalities. These distributions can be viewed below:

bergen2

As shown, the places that have the highest amounts of State aid also have the most FAM developments within their city boundaries. Even so, the highest aid total, which is in Garfield, is still just $57,758,979, which in other places was the municipal aid alone.

Speaking in more practical terms, I believe this research can be used to create new laws for other counties in New Jersey. Take Camden County for example. Imagine a law that prohibited a municipality’s FAM concentration of more than 15% within one county, and no less than 5% of the county’s total FAM developments within one municipality. This would still allow an imbalance of FAM concentration between municipalities, however it would prevent an exponential concentration of FAM developments like in the case of Camden City, Trenton, Paterson, Elizabeth, etc. Such a law would also take the suggested responsibility of providing affordable units away from municipalities and instead pass the responsibility to the County and State governments. New Jersey’s municipalities have proven that they do not want that responsibility and in some cases are incapable of determining the appropriate amount.

The County governments would be responsible for ensuring a more equal distribution within the county’s towns, and the State government would be responsible for ensuring a more equal distribution within the State’s counties. In other words, each of New Jersey’s 21 Counties should have roughly 5% of the State’s FAM developments.

It is often said that a successful economy needs the wealth to be spread, and that may be true. But in this case, it is definitely true that the poverty needs to be spread in order to strengthen all of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities and then in turn create one stronger State.

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