Sweeney: RCAs “put poor white folk and poor black folk out of town”
Hornik: “No one in Trenton can honestly say that COAH is working”
Senate President Sweeney rejected out of hand an idea brought forth by Marlboro Mayor Jonathon Hornik this week that could potentially release $184 million in dormant funds for the benefit of Superstrom Sandy victims.
Hornik called for the reinstatement of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCA), in order to unlock $184 million in COAH funds to help residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy rebuild their homes in an OpEd piece published on MMM and PolitickerNJ.
RCAs were a practice that was in place to build affordable housing in New Jersey from 1985 through 2008 under the Fair Housing Act, whereby communities that had raised affordable housing funds through development could transfer those funds, and their obligation to build affordable housing within their own community, to other communities with an immediate need. The legislature and Governor Corzine outlawed RCAs in 2008.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon issued a statement commending Hornik and said,”When the Democrat leadership in Trenton killed the RCA program it was bad, short sighted policy that many of us knew would come back to bite us. Its flaws are now magnified by the plight of Sandy victims as many towns struggle with the economic burdening of rebuilding.”
MMM raised the issue publicly with Sweeney at his Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg on Thursday, as a bi-partisan idea that would enable state to help Sandy victims and help them from “being RREMed by HUD.” The Senate President rejected the idea out of hand, saying that RCAs didn’t work, that they created poverty in communities, create failure and were designed to “put poor white folk and poor black folk out of town.”
Privately, Sweeney said that Hornik was pushing the RCA idea because Marlboro is facing a COAH related law-suit.
“The Senate President is misinformed,” Hornik said when told of Sweeney’s remark, “Marlboro is not defending any COAH trust fund related lawsuits. This is about helping people get back into their homes. Nothing else. No one in Trenton can honestly say that COAH is working.”
O’Scanlon scoffed at Sweeney’s remarks. “The Democrats don’t want affordable housing, they want equality in housing,” O’Scanlon said. “I want a mansion on the Navesink, but I can’t afford one. Should the government force a developer to build one for me?” The idea of a central planning utopia where every block has a home for every demographic is unrealistic and will never happen.”
“The elimination of RCAs has been a boom for fully built out towns like my home of Little Silver,” O’Scanlon said, “You can’t force a built out town to develop. If there are no developments, there is no COAH obligation, without RCAs. If we presume that forcing suburban communities contribute to the development of affordable housing is the right thing to do, and I’m not saying that I support that idea, RCAs are the only way to do it.”
“COAH policy is a great overreach by the Courts, and has been a disaster in its practical implementation. Now that we have almost $200 million in COAH funds sitting on the sidelines, dormant, we should put them to good use via RCAs to help people in need after Sandy.”
UPDATE, March 24.
Hornik called and clarified his comment regarding Marlboro defending COAH related lawsuits. He said in his original quote that he thought we were discussing a COAH trust fund suit that was recently dismissed. Hornik said that the Township is defending builders’ remedy suits that pre-date his administration. His stand on re-instituting RCAs for the purpose of helping Sandy victims get back into their homes, has nothing to do with those suits.