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About the COAH Decisions

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This description is taken from the COAH Website, to read the full description visit

The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) was created by the Fair Housing Act of 1986 as the State Legislature's response to a series of New Jersey Supreme Court cases known as the Mount Laurel decisions. The Supreme Court established a constitutional obligation for of the 566 municipalities in the state to establish a realistic opportunity for the provision of fair share low and moderate income housing obligations, generally through land use and zoning powers. The legislature provided an administrative alternative to this constitutional obligation via the Fair Housing Act.

With 11 members appointed by the Governor on the advice and consent of the Senate, COAH is empowered to: (1) define housing regions, (2) estimate low and moderate income housing needs, (3) set criteria and guidelines for municipalities to determine and address their own fair share numbers and then (4) review and approve housing elements/fair share plans and regional contribution agreements (RCAs) for municipalities. As a quasi-judicial organization, COAH can also impose resource restraints and consider motions regarding housing plans.

In December 1990 the New Jersey Supreme Court directed COAH to determine criteria for development fee ordinances and then to review and approve the ordinances for municipalities.

COAH is an administrative and regulatory organization. It does not produce, fund or compel municipalities to expend local funds to build affordable housing. Funding is usually provided by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) through its various housing programs or by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) using its bonding capabilities or its federal low income housing tax credit allocations. Some municipalities also expend their own funds or utilize bonding resources.