City Councilmembers introduce strong affordable housing ordinance in Jersey City

City Councilmembers introduce strong affordable housing ordinance in Jersey City

Effort will protect residents from gentrification by
requiring developers to make homes truly affordable

Two Jersey City councilmembers have started the process to introduce an ordinance designed to
protect residents from gentrification by requiring developers to build new affordable homes as
part of new residential projects.

The ordinance will address Jersey City’s longstanding housing affordability crisis, as developers
transform a city at the center of one of the nation’s hottest real estate markets with high‐rise
luxury residences, displacing longtime residents.

“This legislation holds developers accountable while preserving opportunities for low‐income
families to live in our great city,” said Councilwoman Joyce E. Watterman. “We’ve been talking
about addressing the problem of gentrification in our city and its impact on families for years.
Now is the time for action. We developed this proposal in conjunction with advocates and
stakeholders who care about Jersey City’s future. We’re urging the full council and Mayor Fulop
to get on board with this proposal, which will make sure that everyone — not just the rich —
benefit from the investments we’re seeing in our neighborhoods.”

“Longtime Jersey City residents ‐ low to middle income families from Downtown to the Heights
and Journal Square to Bergen Lafayette, West Side and Greenville ‐ are victims of gentrification,
priced out of Jersey City. We need a policy that recognizes and rises to meet this crisis,” said City
Council President Rolando R. Lavarro Jr., co‐sponsor of the legislation. “This ordinance brings the
fierce urgency of now that is required to protect the hard working Jersey City residents who made
this City what it is today and ensures that everyone benefits from Jersey City’s transformation.”
The ordinance will require developers of residential or mixed‐use developments to set aside 20
percent of new units as affordable to working families.

Recognizing that the poorest residents of Jersey City are having the toughest time finding new
housing, it also requires developers to provide affordable homes for families earning between
$24,000 to $60,000 annually.

The introduction of the ordinance follows Mayor Fulop’s Jersey City Housing Plan, released in
2015, which acknowledges that lower‐income residents are being priced out.

Mike McNeill, chairman of the NJ NAACP Housing Committee, said, “Gentrification is harming
lower‐income families of color throughout New Jersey and Jersey City is the epicenter of that.
We can’t have any more missed opportunities. This housing ordinance will create opportunities

we need in Jersey City. As a matter of basic fairness, I hope they adopt it quickly so we can begin
to get ahead of the displacement.”

“This is ordinance is what Jersey City needs,” said Kevin D. Walsh, Executive Director of Fair Share
Housing Center. “Developers who receive generous benefits from the city will no longer be able
to get away with building only for the wealthy. The law on this is strong and the ordinance can
be implemented right away.”

This bill would apply to all property developments in Jersey City that includes residences,
including construction on vacant land, redevelopment of previously developed sites or the
substantial rehabilitation of existing structures.

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