The President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has criticized the Governing Body of the town of Princeton for their current legal action on affordable housing allocations. In a statement provided to ‘Walkable Princeton’, NJ NAACP President Richard T Smith says the town is “walking away from its historic commitment to fair housing”, and urges Princeton leaders to “sit down and negotiate in good faith with advocates to reach a solution”.
The NAACP has a long history of advocating for fair housing in New Jersey. The state’s fair housing laws, which are called the ‘Mount Laurel doctrine‘, take their name from a 1975 court case, ‘Southern Burlington County NAACP vs Mount Laurel” in which the NAACP argued against the use of exclusionary zoning. The legal requirement for New Jersey towns to allow for affordable housing comes from this original case, but many municipalities have sought ways to reduce their obligations. Although the town of Princeton published a document arguing that their legal action is normal procedure, Mr Smith’s statement calls it an attempt to ‘mislead residents about their commitment to fair housing.” His full statement is below:
Statement from Richard T. Smith, President, NJ Chapter, NAACP
“Princeton is walking away from its historic commitment to fair housing and wants a special deal that will allow it to cement in patterns of exclusion. While Princeton’s leaders mislead residents about their commitment to fair housing, the facts tell a very different story. Even as Princeton’s historic black community has declined in population, Princeton’s elected leaders continue to rely on flawed experts who claim that there is no systemic racism in New Jersey. They are arguing that half-million-dollar McMansions should be considered ‘affordable’ and that towns should be free to exclude very low-income families from homes. It’s time for Princeton’s actions to match its rhetoric. It’s time for Princeton to sit down and negotiate in good faith with advocates to reach a solution that expands opportunities for African-American and Latino families in Central Jersey.”
The affordable housing court case involving Princeton continues in Mercer Superior Court.