Latest Mercer County Affordable Housing Estimates: West Windsor Set for 1,000 New Units?

Apartments in West Windsor: lots more required. (click to expand)

Apartments in West Windsor: lots more required. (click to expand)

Last week, Princeton Council and Planning Board discussed a new municipal housing plan to comply with state affordable housing requirements. By take advantage of a new analysis by Richard Reading for Mercer County Courts, Princeton has been able to make a very modest plan, which only requires a limited build-out of new affordable units. But other towns around the County still face a big challenge to come into compliance. Through an public records request, we obtained the latest estimates for affordable housing that are being used by the court, which are likely to represent minimums for towns around Mercer County.

By way of back-story, David Kinsey, an affiliate of Princeton University, produced estimates of affordable housing requirements for all New Jersey towns earlier this year, in an analysis for the Fair Share Housing Center. According to his figures, many towns should be building 1,000 units of affordable housing between now and 2025. Elected officials from several towns complained that Kinsey’s numbers were too high. Meanwhile, Dr Richard Reading was retained as an expert by county courts to conduct another analysis. Reading produced a report for Ocean County courts, which argued that Kinsey’s report was flawed and that lower affordable housing targets were consistent with state law. Based on Dr Reading’s new analysis, these estimates for Mercer County towns are now in play:

  • East Windsor – 415 (units)
  • Ewing – 0
  • Hamilton – 0
  • Hightstown – 54
  • Hopewell Boro – 78
  • Hopewell Twp – 891
  • Lawrence – 339
  • Pennington – 96
  • Princeton – 424
  • Trenton – 0
  • Robbinsville – 481
  • West Windsor – 1,000

These numbers are not final, and with all the twists and turns of affordable housing litigation, it’s something of a fool’s errand to predict what the final outcome will be. But as Dr Reading is acting as a ‘special master’ for the court, his figures are likely to be given great weight. Princeton is already basing its draft housing element on his recommended figure of 424 units, which Judge Jacobson, who is ruling on the affordable housing litigation, has said is permissible, at least for the time being. As Princeton has been building affordable housing steadily in recent years, it will not be a big stretch for the town to reach the target of 424 units. But the impact of 1,891 new units of affordable housing in the neighboring townships of Hopewell and West Windsor could be very significant, especially as these municipalities tend to favor car-dependent sprawl development.



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