Fair Share Housing Center Increases Princeton’s Affordable Housing Obligation to 1,000 Units

The new AvalonBay development will provide 56 new affordable housing units in Princeton. The Fair Share Housing Center says Princeton should provide 1,000 units between now and 2025.
The new AvalonBay development will provide 56 new affordable housing units in Princeton. The Fair Share Housing Center says Princeton should provide 1,000 units between now and 2025.


The Fair Share Housing Center has released revised numbers for recommended affordable housing requirements for New Jersey municipalities that increase the obligation for the town of Princeton from 600 new affordable units to 1,000 new units because the prior calculations included a major error, ignoring consolidation.

David Kinsey, a Princeton resident who works with the Fair Share Housing Center, revised the fair share calculations for every municipality in New Jersey to incorporate the most current U.S. Census data for a factor used in the center’s model. The corrections all stem from U.S. Census data on the number of households in each municipality.

The new calculations of each municipality’s affordable housing obligations will be used by the Fair Share Housing Center in all court filings going forward related to litigation about affordable housing across the state.

About 68 percent of municipalities had no change in prospective need after the revisions were made, 28 percent of municipalities had changes (both increases and decreases) in prospective need of a few units,  and 4 percent of municipalities had increases of between 4 and 10 units or decreases of between 4 and 16 units.

Princeton was the only municipality with a significant increase due to an error in the coding of the data for the town. The earlier calculations used only total occupied housing units data for the former Borough and did not include the relevant data
for the former Township, and thus erroneously showed Princeton’s obligation as subject to a cap of 20 percent of the total homes in the former Borough, and not the combined former Township and former Borough.

“As Princeton prepares its revised housing element and fair share plan for the consolidated municipality to address its Third Round
fair share housing obligations, the municipality may well be eligible for an adjustment of this obligation due to insufficient vacant land, as was the former Borough when its first housing element and fair share plan was reviewed and approved by the Court in 1990,” a Fair Share Housing Center representatives noted in an email about the changes. “The higher number may have limited practical impact.”

The corrections all concern data on total occupied housing units by municipality from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. In response to a public inquiry with the Fair Share Housing Center in late June, the group reviewed the data and discovered that instead of using the most recent U.S. Census data from 2009-2013, the group had erroneously used data from 2008-2012 and mislabeled the data as being from 2009-2013. The error regarding Princeton was caught when the data was reviewed.


  1. Ridiculous social engineering ‘experiment’ by so-called Progressives in New Jersey, the ‘fair share housing plan’ should be abandoned. This is what you get, New Jersey, when you put these liberal fools in office and when liberal ‘activist judges’ (Mount Laurel decision) get involved in such concepts of ‘fairness.’ Another reason to join the millions of people leaving the state in droves.

    1. I’ll take a ‘fair share housing plan’ over an ‘unfair share’ any day. As for the ‘millions’ of people leaving the state, one of the reasons they are going is to find somewhere cheaper to live. Fix housing, the #1 household expense, and you’d go some way to correcting that.

      1. “Forced government fairness” – the Liberal’s dream. Only problem is, it doesn’t work and costs too much.

        1. It’s not really a liberal issue or a conservative issue. It’s just a question of planning. Do we want low income people to be concentrated in low-income communities? We’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work very well (see: Trenton). Conversely, affordable housing in communities of opportunity has a transformative effect in lifting people out of poverty while having essentially no negative effects on the host community. Those who are interested should read ‘Climbing Mt Laurel’ by Princeton U. Professor Douglas Massey, which presents a comprehensive economic analysis of this issue. It was published in 2013.

          1. Fine, so let communities and developers decide on the “what and where” of affordable housing and keep statewide judicial and state government imposed ‘quotas’ and penalties out of it. Forced social engineering doesn’t work.

            1. Unfortunately, municipalities have shown far too much willingness to engage in social engineering, hence the current predicament.

  2. On the New Jersey Builders Association webpage they state,

    “The New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA), represented by Thomas F. Carroll, III, Esq. and Stephen Eisdorfer, Esq. of Hill Wallack, has played a lead role in the case.

    This is the case regarding municipal affordable housing obligations that went to the Supreme court and led to the Court this year to ask local courts to decide on affordable housing obligations as COAH was deemed defunct. Municipalities are now preparing plans for affordable housing obligations in response to the numbers and analysis that NJ Builders Ass/Fair Share Housing presented to the Supreme Court. Fair Share Housing was a party to this case.

    Who funded this lawsuit and the work that produced the numbers for affordable
    housing referred to in this article?

    The NJBA has at the top of its home page in large font : “List of Mount Laurel
    Declaratory Actions Filed.” They are encouraging its members to sue municipalities. https://www.njba.org/ I have screen shots of these two web pages for the historical record.

    From article in NJ Spotlight (Google “NJ Spotlight explainer affordable housing”):

    ” State projections of future growth are used to develop figures through 2025.” — this was a basis for the NJ Builders Ass/Fair Share Housing’s methodology to develop affordable housing obligation numbers for municipalities

    Isn’t NJ seeing a decrease in the number of jobs? The state is giving tax credits to businesses to move to NJ — trying to create growth — and the New Jersey Builder’s Association and Fair Share Housing want municipalities to be required to build to state growth predictions?

    For those who believe that growth is not sustainable — and that the current nature of economic growth is producing more inequity in the US not less — this is quite concerning.

    The builders affordable housing numbers are based on future speculative growth projections by the state — my understanding is that the former numbers by Professor Burchell from Rutgers that were challenged in the NJBA/Fair Share lawsuit were based on actual growth.

    Isn’t this driving future housing growth by calculating an affordable housing obligation based on speculative future growth numbers? This is certainly a way of making that prophecy come to be.

    I would be very interested to hear informed comments from builders and affordable housing advocates. Planet Princeton could you post the documents with analysis for the public: Princeton’s Fair Share Housing Plan 2008, Kinsey analysis and numbers; Burchell’s analysis and numbers, and any other you deem important? Could you please post the document regarding the error that was fixed that you refer to in this article as well?

    1. Alexi,
      It’s great that Krystal is giving coverage to this important issue. I’d just like to point you toward the documents you need.
      – Princeton’s Fair Share Housing Plan 2008 is on the municipal website.
      – Kinsey’s analysis and numbers are on Walkable Princeton, article dated 4.27.15
      – Burchell’s analysis has not been released yet but was due 7/27/15.
      – Check Fair Share Housing’s blog for details of the correction made to Princeton’s estimated housing obligation, article dated 7/17/2015.

      Finally, although NJBA are involved in the court filings, housing is as much a civil rights issue as it is an issue for ‘greedy builders and developers’. Specifically, the question of ‘who gets to live in our community’. When we don’t build enough houses, the wealthiest get preference on the best communities because they can bid up the price. Middle class and less-affluent people get excluded. I don’t think that’s acceptable, and, more importantly, neither does the New Jersey Constitution, hence the current situation.

      1. Wow … people have a ‘civil right’ to live in Princeton? Amazing leap of constitutional interpretation that it completely erroneous.

        1. No they don’t have a civil right to specifically live in Princeton, and that’s not what I wrote. But Princeton does have a duty to allow for a fair share of affordable housing, and that duty follows from legal interpretations of the State Constitution that were made on civil rights grounds. you may not like those interpretations, but rightly or wrongly they were made with the intention of extending equal opportunity to the greatest number of New Jerseyans. This stands in marked contrast to the cliche that new development only benefits ‘greedy developers’.

          1. Government and judicial interference in the free market has created a mess for municipalities. This interference stands in marked contrast to our nation’s history of avoiding the ‘enforced fairness.’ Oh, and you know what they say about “good intentions” …

            1. I tend to agree with you, but the point of the Fair Share housing implementation is to redress the mess that municipalities have made of the housing market by governmental interference, specifically through exclusionary zoning. If we could just get rid of exclusionary zoning, there would be no need for the Fair Share law, and that would be a much better situation.

      2. Thanks for the info on where to find some of these documents.

        I believe Burchell did the analysis for COAH that was challenged by NJ Builders Ass/ Fair Share. That analysis, and numbers, must be part of the lawsuit, no? I understand he is doing another analysis for many municipalities in response to the NJBA/Fair Share numbers, but we should be able to see Burchell’s previous analysis/numbers that were challenged in court.

        Where did the numbers come from last summer when COAH told Princeton they had a zero affordable housing obligation?

        1. Burchell was involved in generating the numbers that COAH released last year, which incluced a zero obligation for Princeton. However, I don’t believe those numbers were ever litigated, because COAH failed to adopt them. The litigation centered on COAH’s failure to produce a new round of affordable housing numbers, not the specific numbers themselves. I don’t know if the numbers were ever put in the public domain, and I haven’t looked very hard because they are defunct now anyway. Burchell’s new analysis, which was expected 7/27, is more relevant, because many municipalities will likely use that as the basis for their updated Fair Share housing plans.

  3. I moved from Princeton to NC two years ago because I could not afford the cost of rental housing in retirement in Princeton. Housing is about 50% less here in NC. as middle income people leave NJ, you will be left with very rich and very poor people. Is that what you want? I think pushing for affordable housing for middle class people as well, is very important!

    1. I made this point to Kevin Walsh from Fair Share when he was part of a panel on Mt Laurel at Princeton U. a couple of years ago. He pointed out that affordable homes are nowadays usually built as part of market developments that provide housing for all levels of income. I think this is very important, because it’s the middle class that tend to get forgotten about in these housing discussions.

      1. Thanks SFB. The middle class I refer to are folks who have more assets than would allow them to qualify for Section 8 subsidies. I applaud Princeton Community Housing for all they do with affordable housing.
        That said, every day I run into folks who have moved here from NJ and NY. we even have a NJ Expat meet up group.
        Clearly the folks in the economic middle are getting squeezed out and that is very sad…….

      2. For the hospital site 50% of the 56 affordable units will be for moderate income. These are priced for the middle class — in fact prices for these apartments are about what the prices are for the many rentals in my neighborhood (the Tree Streets). The remaining 50% at the hospital site will be for low income and very low income. PCSN gained in their agreement with the developer an increase in the number of very low income affordable units — but still it wasn’t much. My understanding is that we got 13% of 28 which is less than four units of very low income affordable housing.

        I believe I read that 12% of the children in Princeton Public Schools are on free or reduced lunch program. Is that correct?

        The other thing to consider is that people who are not in controlled price affordable housing in Princeton, whether they are paying taxes or rents, are finding the town less and less affordable. Building subsidized housing may put even more financial burden on them. Those eligible for moderate affordables in Mercer County can make a pretty decent income. The income limit for 4 people at Princeton Community Village is $121,716. (PCH Slide Show, 9-11-2014).

  4. People should be aware that we have 40 years of data that conclusively shows that “Affordable Housing” developments–where the ‘affordable” housing explicitly excludes low-income people, and where between 80 and 90% of the development is market rate–succeed in three things: (1) They raise taxes dramatically, which directly harms the poor and middle class, and makes areas like Princeton LESS affordable; (2) They encourage white flight from cities–the main beneficiaries are white middle class single women–which leads to further racial inequity, and (3) they contribute to sprawl and the destruction of greenspace, with significant environmental effects. Fair Share Housing has consistently REFUSED to address any of these issues.

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