Gov. Chris Christie released a statement late Wednesday announcing a reorganization plan to streamline government that abolishes the controversial Council on Affordable Housing.
According to a published report on Christie’s announcement, administrative and enforcement of affordable housing laws would be reassigned to the Department of Community Affairs. The governor’s statement said such oversight for the DCA would be an extension of its existing duties, since it already operates affordable housing initiatives through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the state.
“The performance of these obligations can be significantly improved and streamlined by consolidating the statutory functions, powers, duties and personnel of (COAH) with those of the department,” Christie said in the statement.
The reorganization plan gives DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa the task of implementing the reorganization of COAH’s administration into DCA. In current contracts, documents and laws, references to COAH are now to mean the commissioner.
“Housing and land-use decisions should be made locally,” Grifa said in a statement. “The transfer of the functions of COAH to the DCA will enable that and, we believe, will reduce the bureaucratic logjam and frustration that has chilled housing development for the last few years.”
Grifa said there will be no staffing increase at the DCA as a result of the move.
The Legislature has 60 days to disapprove of the reorganization plan with concurrent resolutions in each house.
“This plan raises issues, among them … what will be the consequences for the court cases in front of the (Supreme) Court?” said Jeffrey Kantowitz, an attorney with Day Pitney LLP.
The state Supreme Court is currently reviewing an appellate decision looking at affordable housing rules created by COAH that were thrown out as unconstitutional in October.