By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — The New Jersey Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the Christie administration has failed to enforce policies aimed at providing affordable housing across the state.

So, state courts will now step in.

This is the latest move in a four-decade fight that started with the Mt. Laurel decision, requiring towns to set aside certain amounts of housing for lower-income people.

“The courts have found a way to get around a state agency that couldn’t get out of its own way and an administration which was blocking Mount Laurel from working,” says Kevin Walsh (photo below), an attorney with the Fair Share Housing Center.

 

Kevin Walsh, lead attorney for the Fair Share Housing Center, addresses the New Jersey Supreme Court. (credit: New Jersey Courts)

Kevin Walsh, lead attorney for the Fair Share Housing Center, addresses the New Jersey Supreme Court. (File photo from New Jersey court video)

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Trial courts now have three months to set up a system that will allow people to challenge municipalities and for those towns to demonstrate compliance with longstanding quotas.

The state’s high court stressed that its ruling does not stop elected officials from coming up with their own processes that work.

Late this afternoon, Gov. Christie’s office issued a statement which said, “Today’s decision is a call to action to finally finish the job of reforming our affordable housing system so that it is no longer a costly burden to the people of New Jersey and actually encourages sound development.   After the Senate passed legislation with the Governor’s support in 2010, it completely stalled in the Assembly. Now is the time to finish what we started and move these bills to take the judicial system out of the process of creating a rational process for encouraging the development of affordable housing that is grounded in economic feasibility and land use planning.”