New Jersey’s Star-Ledger news group is hosting a series called ‘Improving New Jersey’ in collaboration with Together North Jersey, and the first topic under consideration is the housing crisis in New Jersey. As we know, New Jersey is the second-worst state in the nation for housing cost. The cost of housing sucks money out of the local economy, and places many households in a precarious situation with regard to just paying the rent or mortgage payment. What are the causes of this crisis, and how can we resolve it?
The Star-Ledger called on two experts to weigh in on these questions: Alan Mallach– a senior fellow of the National Housing Institute and a fellow at the Center for Community Progress and the Brookings Institution; and Peter S. Reinhart, the director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute and a specialist professor at Monmouth University. In a live web-chat on Tuesday, the experts answered questions from NJ.com contributors (in which we participated!). This was followed by a video interview, in which the experts gave their suggestions on how to fix the crisis. In response to the question, “What would be the most important thing that New Jersey could do to address this particular crisis?”, Allan Mallach was very clear:
“The first [thing] is to create an environment where land use regulations- land use zoning- allow developers to build the type of housing and the amount of housing that the people of New Jersey need, which means more small houses, more apartments, more walkable communities, and higher densities.”
(You can see the video yourself- see below, at 14′:34″. Click here if video doesn’t start.)
Peter Reinhart agreed, and additionally said that sorting out the mess with the Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) is a priority. The policy prescription is clear. We need more housing supply in walkable places to fix New Jersey’s affordability crisis, and that means sorting out zoning restrictions that limit that supply.
What are your thoughts on affordability in New Jersey? Does it make sense for municipalities to try to address the housing crisis? Or will the problem take care of itself, as middle-class families flee the state for other areas where they can afford to live? Have your say in the comments below!