Fairness and Compliance Hearing on the Proposed Amendment to the Settlement Agreement Regarding Westfield's Compliance with Its Third Round Mount Laurel Affordable Housing Obligations
Please take notice that an amended fairness and compliance hearing will be conducted by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division (Union County), the Honorable Thomas J. Walsh, J.S.C., presiding, on the Zoom virtual meeting platform on December 2, 2021, commencing at 9:00 am, on the fairness of a proposed Amendment to the settlement agreement regarding the Town of Westfield's compliance with its Third Round Mount Laurel affordable housing obligations.
The Zoom link and information is below:
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Westfield is proactive in maintaining and expanding its affordable housing inventory in compliance with its court approved affordable housing plan.
Applications for affordable housing units are made through the Town’s Affordable Housing Administrative Agent, Community Grants, Planning & Housing. The pre-application process is now done online and may be completed on a computer, smartphone or tablet. No paper application will be sent. To submit a pre-application, please visit the Affordable Homes New Jersey website. If you do not have an email address, please call 609-664-2769 extension 5 to complete your pre-application.
The Town is also currently an eligible community in the Union County Home Improvement Program. Westfield property owners who are income-eligible may apply for funding from the housing rehabilitation program being funded by Union County. Please see program information from Union County, which is available here.
Affordability Assistance Program
The Town of Westfield has established an affordability assistance program, which is administrated by Community Grants Planning and Housing. Funds for the program come from development fees levied upon developers in accordance with the Town’s Development Fee Ordinance, and the payment-in-lieu from the Ross Place project. The creation of the Affordability Assistance Program is as required in the Town’s Spending Plan, which has been approved by the Superior Court as indicated in the Final Judgment of Compliance and Repose. A Policies and Procedures Manual has been created for the program which includes three month’s rent for renters moving into deed restricted affordable units, an emergency generator program for 100% affordable projects, and assistance in creating additional very low income units through conversion of moderate or low income units.
Attention Non-Profit Affordable Housing Organization - Request for Proposals and Qualifications
The Town of Westfield seeks to assist non-profit affordable housing organizations in the development of affordable housing within its borders. The Town encourages the involvement of non-profits in meeting its unmet need, with a goal of providing 20 additional homes, half for families, by December 31, 2025.
Westfield has hosted annual meetings in which local and regional non-profits have been invited to participate in sharing ideas and making proposals to help the Town meet this goal. As a result of feedback from these annual meetings, the Town has created a program where it seeks proposals and qualifications from non-profit affordable housing organizations where a request can be made to utilize available funding from Westfield’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Funds may be utilized for the purposes of property acquisition and/or to fund construction costs for the creation of affordable housing. Projects may consist of all special needs affordable units, all family affordable units, or a combination of both. There is currently no deadline for a submission under the program.
A copy of the Request for Proposals and Qualifications document can be found here: Request for Proposals and Qualifications Non-Profit Affordable Housing Organizations
Housing Element and Fair Share Plan
The Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL), N.J.S.A. 40:55D-62a, requires every municipality with a zoning ordinance to adopt a master plan containing at least a land use plan element and housing plan element. N.J.S.A. 40:55D-28 b (3) requires that the housing plan element include residential standards and proposals for the construction and improvement of housing in accordance with the New Jersey Fair Housing Act (FHA), specifically, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-310. This required plan is commonly referred to as the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan (HE&FSP) and must contain certain sub-elements that, at minimum, include the following:
An inventory of the municipality's housing stock by age, condition, purchase or rental value, occupancy characteristics, and type, including the number of units affordable to low and moderate income households and substandard housing capable of being rehabilitated, and in conducting this inventory the municipality shall have access, on a confidential basis for the sole purpose of conducting the inventory, to all necessary property tax assessment records and information in the assessor's office, including but not limited to the property record cards.
A projection of the municipality's housing stock, including the probable future construction of low and moderate income housing, for the next ten years, taking into account, but not necessarily limited to, construction permits issued, approvals of applications for development and probable residential development of lands;
An analysis of the municipality's demographic characteristics, including but not necessarily limited to, household size, income level and age;
An analysis of the existing and probable future employment characteristics of the municipality;
A determination of the municipality's present and prospective fair share for low and moderate income housing and its capacity to accommodate its present and prospective housing needs, including its fair share for low and moderate income housing; and
A consideration of the lands that are most appropriate for construction of low and moderate income housing and of the existing structures most appropriate for conversion to, or rehabilitation for, low and moderate income housing, including a consideration of lands of developers who have expressed a commitment to provide low and moderate income housing.
Settlement Agreements and Court Judgment
On June 15, 2021 the Town Council passed a resolution endorsing the 2021 Amendment to the 2018 Housing Element and Fair Share Plan as adopted by the Planning Board on June 7, 2021.
On June 15, 2021, the Town Council passed General Ordinance No. 2217: An Ordinance Amending the Land Use of the Town of Westfield to Address the Requirements of the Fair Housing Act Regarding Compliance with the Town's Affordable Housing Obligations.