Newark council takes step to approve anti-gentrification rule

NEWARK -- Moving to prevent gentrification as Newark's housing market heats up, the City Council voted Wednesday night to grant preliminary approval to a rule requiring 20 percent of large residential projects be set aside for people with low and moderate incomes.

The council voted 7-0, with two members absent, to approve Ordinance 17-0842, titled "Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing." A public hearing and final vote is scheduled for July 12. 

The measure would amend the city's land use law to require a fifth of the units in residential projects of 30 units or more be restricted to people making no more than 80 percent of the median income for the region, or up to $50,000.

Some of that 20 percent would be restricted to people making as little as 20 percent of the region's median income.

The measure is backed by Mayor Ras Baraka and crafted with input from developers, with the support of local housing advocates and community groups. 

"Thousands of units are under construction and more are in the permitting process," said John Goldstein of the Newark Housing Coalition, who welcomed the council's action. "People who turned up their noses at Newark a generation ago are now willing to pay high rents to be a part of our vibrant community. Without Inclusionary Zoning, our City will be taken over by highly paid commuters, while longtime residents and business owners are displaced."

Proposed amid the city's ongoing building boom, the measure is intended to insure that people of all income levels share in the new housing being created.

Officials said Hoboken is the only other municipality in the state with a similar requirement that large residential projects include an affordable component.

Some experts have warned that the measure could have the unintended consequence of deterring some projects, if developers or their lenders determine that the requirement does not allow for a sufficient profit margin. in that case, those experts say, the city could be forced to grant tax breaks or other incentives to keep those projects alive.

Still, some recent high-profile projects, particularly in the city's popular downtown section, have included affordable units voluntarily.

For example, at the mixed-use redevelopment of the former Hahne & Company Department Store, 65 of the 160 apartments are affordable. And the One Theater Square apartment tower, now rising across the street from NJPAC, has includes 26 affordable units out of total of 245 apartments.

For projects that developers feel can't meet the new rule, developers could seek to make a $100,000 payment for each affordable unit that otherwise wold have to be included. That money would go into a fund used to help construct affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment