In the Home News Tribune of April, 11 former Assemblyman Rick Merkt (R-Morris) made a strong argument for the abolition of Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).
COAH, if it is allowed to remain, has dictated the construction of 500, 000 housing units be constructed for low income people. The COAH staff in Trenton has determined that they have a divine right to order municipalities to build whether there is an actual demand for the housing or not.
A review of census statistics clearly shows that the COAH staff has a certain level of mathematical shortcomings. In the early years of the McGreevy administration there were estimates that the population of New Jersey would grow at approximately 1% per year or compounded to an addition of 900,000 for a total population of 9.3M from the 2000 census total of 8.4M.
For many reasons, all bad thanks to McGreevy and Corzine, the actual population growth was approximately 300,000 to 8.7M, a shortage of 600,000 from the original projection. With this type of population growth the last thing that New Jersey needs is a glut of empty housing. If each of the 500,000 COAH housing units were designed to house only three people, these units would need 1.5M new residents to occupy them. At a growth rate of 33,000 persons per year, and assuming that the total population growth would occupy the COAH housing, it would take 45 years to fill the houses.
With all new residents occupying the COAH housing, then none of them would occupy the existing housing stock. This would cause a collapse of current equity values as the buyers of the existing stock would be non-existent.
The COAH staff will ignore all of these arguments as their mission is to build these houses, regardless of the economic havoc that they will cause. After all, their jobs and livelihood depend on carrying out the COAH dictum. No dictum, no income!
There is no way to actually fix COAH as the COAH staff and their supporters will always find a way around directives from the Governor and the Legislature.
The best, and really only way, to correct the COAH issue is to follow Assemblyman Merkt’s recommendation-abolish it. COAH must go!
Harold V. Kane
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