A Dozen Nonprofits Press State Supreme Court to Affirm Key Aspects of the Mount Laurel Doctrine
Urge Support for Continuing Efforts to Provide Affordable Housing for All New Jersey Residents


On June 15, 2011, representatives from twelve nonprofit organizations submitted a total of four “friend of the court” briefs to the New Jersey Supreme Court in In the Matter of the Adoption of N.J.A.C. 5:96 and 5:97 by the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, Docket No. 67,126, urging the Court to affirm key aspects of the Mount Laurel doctrine to ensure the availability of housing that is affordable to all the residents of the State.  This broad coalition of national, state, and local groups includes civil rights advocates, smart growth and affordable housing organizations, supportive housing providers, and others.

Each of the briefs is summarized below, along with contact information for each organization and counsel.  The following briefs are available in their entirety:  Smart Growth, Civil Liberties, Racial Integration, and Supportive Housing.

Smart Growth Brief
Summary:  The smart growth groups focus on the critical role that the development of affordable housing plays in the advancement of the State’s economic, environmental, and equitable health through sound planning.  The brief argues that the Third Round Rules promulgated by the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) would undermine the fundamental principles of the Mount Laurel doctrine in two ways: (1) by allowing municipalities to decide for themselves whether to incur any affordable housing obligation; and (2) by permitting municipalities to consider only their local interests in making such decisions, ignoring the needs of low-income families throughout the region.  

New Jersey Future
Peter Kasabach, Executive Director // (609) 393-0008 ext. 104 // [email protected]

American Planning Association
Denny Johnson, Public Affairs Coordinator // (202) 349-1006 // [email protected]

American Planning Association -- New Jersey Chapter
Charles Latini, Jr., President // (732) 932.5475 ext. 731 // [email protected]

Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
Nina Arce // (609) 393-3752 // [email protected]

Lowenstein Sandler PC (Counsel)
Kenneth H. Zimmerman, Esq. // (973) 597-2494 // [email protected]
Civil Liberties Brief
Summary:  In response to the State’s request for almost complete deference to COAH, the ACLU-NJ’s brief reminds the Court that it has a constitutional role and obligation to ensure that the actions of the state agency are consistent with constitutional requirements and are not arbitrary or capricious.  Further, the brief explains that the basic principle of the Mt. Laurel doctrine -- that the “general welfare” clause of the NJ Constitution imposes upon municipalities an affirmative obligation to provide reasonable opportunities for affordable housing to meet its fair share of the region’s needs -- has a longstanding place in our constitutional jurisprudence, and should be upheld.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
Ed Barocas, Legal Director // (973) 854-1717// [email protected]

Ronald K. Chen (Counsel)
Ronald K. Chen, Esq. // (973) 353-5378 // [email protected]

Racial Integration Brief
Summary:  The minority advocacy organizations emphasize the detrimental effect that COAH's Third Round Rules will have on racial integration through access to affordable housing.  According to both groups, a fundamental purpose of the Mount Laurel doctrine is the reduction of segregation in housing, a goal that cannot be accomplished under the challenged regulations and its allowance for municipalities to exercise unfettered discretion.

New Jersey State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Latino Action Network
Frank Argote-Freyre, President // (908) 670-0552

Gibbons PC (Counsel)
Lawrence S. Lustberg, Esq. // (973) 596-4731 // llustberg @gibbonslaw.com

Supportive Housing Brief
Summary:  These providers of supportive housing focus on the discriminatory impact of COAH's regulations on individuals with special needs.  There exists an “acute shortage” of affordable housing for individuals with special needs that will only be exacerbated if COAH’s Third Round Rules are implemented.  COAH’s rules threaten to undo the success that the Mount Laurel doctrine has achieved for individuals with special needs.

Corporation for Supportive Housing
Alison Recca-Ryan, Director, CSH-NJ // (609) 392-7820 // [email protected]

Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey
Ed Murphy, Executive Director // (908) 931-1131 // [email protected]

Monarch Housing Associates
Richard W. Brown, CEO // (908) 272-5363 ext 225 // [email protected]

Disability Rights New Jersey
Joseph B. Young, Executive Director // (609) 292-9742 // [email protected]

United Cerebral Palsy of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey
Andrea Krich, Executive Director // (908) 879-2243 // [email protected]

Ballard Spahr LLP (Counsel)
Tracy A. Siebold, Esq. // (856) 761-3400 // [email protected]