Jersey City Studies Whether to Enact Inclusionary Housing Ordinance

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Newport Jersey City Skyline
Newport, Jersey City. Photo by Darrell Simmons/Jersey Digs.

With market-rate residential development continuing to increase all over town, from Newport to Bergen-Lafayette to Journal Square, companies are continuing to look at Jersey City as a place to build amid population growth in the New York Metropolitan Area. Simultaneously, affordability in this time of change in the Garden State’s second largest city has been of concern to many longtime residents.

While Newark is not currently seeing as much residential construction as Jersey City, with more and more projects continuing to be proposed in New Jersey’s largest municipality, officials there have already implemented a measure that aims to keep the prices down on some of the new units. The Essex County city made headlines last year with its inclusionary zoning ordinance, which requires in part that developers building new projects with at least 30 units dedicate at least 20 percent of them to “affordable” housing. Newarkers are supposed to be prioritized for these discounted units as part of the ordinance.

Now, Jersey City is looking into whether to adopt an inclusionary ordinance of its own in regards to housing. Back on August 15, all present members of the Jersey City Municipal Council voted to approve a resolution that authorizes the Jersey City Planning Board “to study, report, make recommendations, and propose an inclusionary housing ordinance for consideration and adoption.”

The resolution cites the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Jersey City in 2018 as $1,614 per month and says that the hourly wage needed to afford such a cost is $31.04. It adds that the planning board was authorized to conduct its report within 35 days of August 15, though the proposed ordinance has yet to be heard by the council.

Although the resolution mentions that “the Municipal Council…wishes to ensure that as the city grows and attracts market-rate residential development,…it also provides opportunity for the city to meet or exceed its fair share of the region’s affordable housing need,” few specific details were provided about what such an ordinance could include in Jersey City.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I’d be curious to know how many 30+ unit projects subject to inclusionary zoning have actually broken ground in Newark since they passed their ordinance last year.

  2. This is the sort of thing which sounds logical at first glance, but might lead to negative unintended consequences in practice. Just thinking back to my university economics courses, by artificially reducing the price of the product (in this case, housing) you’re theoretically likely to create a reduced supply. This in turn could end up resulting in higher prices if it restricts new development. I’m not an expert, but I would really wonder what the net result is based on studies of similar sorts of policies throughout recent history. I wonder what best practice is in terms of public policy for the issue of housing affordability?

    • So lets create a 50%property tax to all owners who use their homes as an income property to discourage people who are trying to artificially inflate rent in jersey city. If you look at all the properties being built in jersey city they are all called Luxury property. Why? Just using the term makes owners add 500k extra to the property .

  3. Administration and monitoring of the program will be expensive and difficult in a free market. How about training those able to work for good paying jobs as apprentices in the trades so they can afford market rate housing? We need electricians, plumbers, welders, masons, medical personnel, carpenters, and other skilled workers. We would then only need to house the elderly poor and disabled in affordable housing. Where has exclusionary housing actually worked and solved the problem? There is an issue. Let’s address it the best way.

  4. The city of Everett, MA recently cut a similar 15-20% requirement down to 10%, because the local developers prioritized building in neighboring towns. Lots has changed in Newark, but I’m not convinced they’re in the position to be making demands like this.

  5. Makes no sense. This is where NYC always wins. They have affordable housing at 20% but they also give HUGE TAX benefits and other benefits to make things work. Jersey city doesn’t want to give those out anymore. So, no one will build with such restrictions and with nothing in return… Let economics play is self. Units market prices, change with the market. So, if market is lower, prices go lower, and etc… Let’s not mess with what has been working…

  6. I think this is an excellent idea that allows some of the lower economic residents to benefit from the boom that is taking place in Jersey City. It also has the added benefit of mixing up the various economic classes rather than isolating them in particular areas. Make no doubt about it this new construction is luxury and very high end. Adding “affordable” units to the mix doesn’t necessarily mean there is still no profit for those building here. The builders will come because the demand is there. There are good reasons to hold them to standards that lets JC build a community and affordable includes that.

  7. I’m reading some of these comments and smh.Ive been a 25 year resident of Jersey city heights and I have a profession but I can barley make ends meet now with the outrageous increase in rent . Someone mentioned training more people so they can make 31 dollars an hour in order to afford a market price one bedroom.at 1600 a month ?nice idea but unrealistic I don’t even make that an hour ! I think they should adopt the plan for affordable housing ..it’s only fair we were here first the ones to made jc what it is with all its culture and diversity way before all the NYC transplants came

  8. Artificially controlling prices in a free market will only increase the costs of market rate housing because the developers will pass the added costs along to market rate buyers. It will also cost a lot of tax dollars to administer the program by the city. Yes, some will get good affordable units but there likely won’t be enough of them ever built. So if you are a market rate buyer be ready to pay more for your housing so others can get their affordable units.

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