Towns That Defy Fair-Housing Law

A New York Times Editorial


The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly over three decades that wealthy towns cannot legally exclude housing for low- and moderate-income families.

The rulings, in the Mount Laurel fair-housing case, have helped tens of thousands of low- and moderate-income families find homes in communities where crime is low, schools are good and there is a path to the middle class. But lawyers estimate that more than 100,000 homes that should have been built never were, thanks to resistance by suburban communities and politicians like Gov. Chris Christi, who has tried to kill off the program.

The Supreme Court lost patience last year, when it took the housing program out of the state’s hands and asked the lower courts to get it back on track. But the court must also ensure that communities are held accountable for the affordable housing they failed to allow during those years of resistance. Under the State Constitution, local zoning must allow for the creation of a “fair share” of such housing based on regional growth, jobs and incomes.