Jersey City’s Council took a step earlier this week to clarify how their affordable housing units are doled out, and the regulations would also give city residents the first shot at snagging one of the apartments.
On Wednesday, the Council moved to adopt an ordinance that would clarify how the city assigns affordable housing units. The new rules would apply to any new affordable, moderate or low-income units that were created due to a development being granted a tax exemption, as a condition of building within a redevelopment zone, or if they received a grant from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The proposed regulations shift a lot of responsibility to developers who have affordable units in their buildings. Those owners will need to submit a yearly report and quarterly lists of all affordable housing units in each of their properties to the city, noting which are unoccupied. They also would be required to send the city a quarterly waiting list for all their affordable units.
The city’s Office of Tax Abatement and Compliance will be responsible for the administration of the Ordinance and will monitor compliance with all Affordable Housing Agreements. They will also be tasked with maintaining a comprehensive recordkeeping system of individuals who live in affordable housing units.
Under the new rules, developers will also be required to have a 30-day “Open Application Period” when they must publicize the availability of any unoccupied affordable housing units. The ordinance also gives preference to “any person who currently lives in Jersey City and who has lived in Jersey City for the previous 12 months” in obtaining one of the units.
So who qualifies for the housing? For affordable units, yearly household income for all residents cannot exceed 80% of the area median income level for Hudson County, or about $48,000. For low-income units, the combined annual income for all household members cannot exceed 50% of the median income level. Moderate Income units are set aside for families whose annual income is greater than 50% of the median income, but does not exceed 80% of it.
The revamp is being considered at a time when 85 affordable units are set to come online soon with the completion of Forest City’s Hudson Exchange West project. To become law, the ordinance will need to be passed by the Council during a second reading, which could happen at their next meeting on May 10th.