Red Bank officials reach third round affordable housing settlement

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RED BANK – Without discussion, municipal officials in Red Bank have voted unanimously to authorize a settlement agreement regarding the borough’s legal obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in town.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, Borough Council President Erik Yngstrom, Councilman Michael Ballard and Borough Attorney Greg Cannon did not respond to requests for comment about the affordable housing issue following the council’s stamp of approval.

During a council meeting on Jan. 23, a settlement agreement to rehabilitate existing housing units and develop new affordable units was reached between Red Bank and the Fair Share Housing Center, which is out of Cherry Hill.

The Fair Share Housing Center is an “organization devoted to defending the housing rights of New Jersey’s poor through enforcement of the (affordable housing laws),” according to its website.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

The settlement of affordable housing litigation avoids the expense of trial and expedites the construction of low and moderate income housing, according to the terms outlined in the agreement.

According to the terms of the agreement, 129 existing housing units in Red Bank will be rehabilitated to help fulfill the affordable housing obligation.

Red Bank’s prior round obligation includes the construction of 427 housing units and the third round obligation includes the construction of 313 affordable housing units. The borough has satisfied 163 units of unmet need through the completion of previous development projects.

For the third round obligation, 90 housing units will be rehabilitated in Montgomery Terrace, a family affordable housing development, and at Evergreen Terrace, an age-restricted affordable housing development. 

“A Rental Assistance Demonstration program grant through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has been applied for at Montgomery Terrace and Evergreen Terrace in the amount of approximately $27,000 per unit,” the settlement stated.

The remaining 39 affordable housing units that are not included in the rehabilitation plan for Montgomery Terrace and Evergreen Terrace will be addressed in Red Bank’s rehabilitation program, according to the settlement. 

According to the settlement, the rehabilitation program “will provide assistance to rehabilitate substandard housing units in the borough that are occupied by low and moderate income households. The program will be funded through development fees and other available grants and funding sources for such programs, and will be administered by the borough, either in-house or through an outside administrative agent or other qualified entity.”

The settlement states that Red Bank “will provide a realistic opportunity for the development of additional affordable housing that will be developed or created through means other than inclusionary zoning … The borough will develop a first-time home ownership assistance program to provide an opportunity for home ownership in the borough to at least 50 low and moderate income households by 2025.”

Red Bank’s current third round obligation has a realistic development potential of 92 affordable housing units with an unmet need of 221 units. The realistic development potential of the municipality’s third round obligation includes 36 family-for-sale townhouses at Cedar Crossing.

At present, the three dozen townhouses have been constructed on this parcel, according to the settlement.

A total of 28 affordable family rental housing units are proposed at 176 Riverside Ave., according to the settlement. At present, the parcel is the home to the vacant Visiting Nurse Association building.

In December, municipal officials adopted an ordinance detailing a redevelopment plan that proposes the construction of dozens of apartments at 176 Riverside Ave. to help satisfy a portion of the borough’s obligation to provide opportunities for affordable housing.

A total of two affordable family rental units are under construction at Riverwalk Commons, Mechanic Street; three affordable family rental units are under construction at Fortune Square, Drs. James Parker Blvd.; two family apartment units are under construction at Brownstones townhouse community, between River and Catherine streets; and two single-family homes will be built at Azalea Gardens, near Harding Road and Clay Street.

In total, Red Bank will receive 23 bonus credits for the construction of the projects in the municipality’s third round affordable housing obligation. The borough’s third round obligation includes 92 credits of realistic development potential with an unmet need of seven affordable housing units, according to the terms of the settlement.

A fairness hearing regarding the agreement between Red Bank and the Fair Share Housing Center will be held in state Superior Court on a date to be determined. A judge will review the proposed settlement between the two sides.