The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) has failed to establish legally valid rules and numeric obligations for affordable housing since the second round of regulations expired in 1999. There have been numerous court battles between affordable housing advocates, the real estate developers’ lobby, municipalities and COAH itself over how the rules should be formulated and the methodology by which local obligations should be established.
In March of 2015, the Supreme Court, after numerous attempts by COAH to establish legally acceptable rules and the methodology to calculate each municipality’s affordable housing obligation, took back jurisdiction over all affordable housing issues. The Supreme Court returned to the county trial courts the responsibility of determining methodology, affordable housing obligations and compliance with the constitutional obligations to provide this housing through land use ordinances, overlay zones and available inclusionary development opportunities. This order stripped COAH of its administrative powers and forced participating towns into a situation where they must attempt to determine their own obligations. This process is ongoing and will likely continue through trial and appeals courts for years to come.