Vernon and O'Burg may swap money for housing obligation

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    OGDENSBURG-With 22 approved applicants and 56 additional applicants on a waiting list for affordable housing units, the Borough of Ogdensburg has entered into a regional contribution agreement with Vernon, which is proposing to transfer 20 units to help 20 more families. Vernon Mayor Ira Weiner said that the township council has not made a final decision on whether to go through with the transfer, but that Township Manager Don Teolis had been investigating the possibility. The N.J. Fair Housing Act requires all New Jersey municipalities to provide low and moderate income housing, generally as a percentage of any new development. But the law allows towns to fulfill 50 percent of their obligations by transferring some of their required units to another community in the region. The sending town pays a per-unit fee for the transfer. Vernon would pay $500,000 for the rehabilitation of 20 housing units, at $25,000 per unit, to be occupied by lower income households. The money would come from a trust fund established from payments made by developers to fulfill their obligations to provide low and moderate income housing. The agreement is in accordance with the provision of the New Jersey Fair Housing statutes wiAgreement project plan to the Sussex County Planning Board, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and to the Council on Affordable Housing. The Borough has engaged an experienced consultant to implement the terms of the agreement. Steve Weinburg of Community Action Services, a professional community and economic development consultant, will assist in the preparation of the plan and implementation of the agreement with Vernon Township. The contract to prepare the project plan that will be submitted to Sussex County and the mortgage financing company was approved at the Borough's last town meeting. Weinburg stated that it has become a priority to complete the plan by the end of this year as the new rules "may be to our disadvantage." Of the 22 applicants with approved status, "there are five or six under contract, but this number would double," added Weinburg. With the probability that a percentage will not qualify, there will be money for 22 additional units. He said that it's necessary to actually approve the agreement, since the Coalition on Affordable Housing meets on Dec. 8, and when it is approved, "we would see the first money some time thereafter." Ogdensburg officials have said they want to provide affordable housing for its low and moderate income residents. Additional funds towards that end are available through the Regional Coalition Agreement.