Montclair Councilwoman Baskerville to Take Part in Affordable Housing Forum

Councilwoman BaskervilleMontclair Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville will take part in an affordable housing forum to be held by the Montclair Justice Coalition on Tuesday, April 11, between 7 – 9 pm, at the Wally Choice Community Center (49 Maple Avenue, Glenfield Park).

The discussion will center on issues of affordable housing in Montclair, the impact of new development and financial assistance for residents and municipal employees.

Baskerville will be joined by William Scott, Chair of the Montclair NAACP Housing Committee and Co-Chair of the Montclair Housing Commission.

The Montclair Justice Coalition is a community organization founded in October 2016 to bring together the full diversity of residents to work towards a hometown that benefits all of its residents. Coalition founding members are: Shae Cali, Greater Newark Conservancy Re-Entry Program; Albert Pelham, Montclair NAACP & Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation; Chris Napierala, Seed Artists; and Joseph Davis, Brother to Brother.


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  1. Affordable Housing advocacy in this town seems to always end up being about the importation of low-income persons from Newark, Orange, East Orange and surrounding cities rather than caring for the stability and well being of existing residents.

  2. Lots of people are being priced out of Montclair…. long standing families and it is noticeable that the town’s characteristic diversity is diminishing. Affordable housing should be limited to Montclair residents only, especially seniors and residents who are caregivers. If affordable housing is not being provided to residents FIRST by some kind law, then it is NOT a boon to the community and it will just keep forcing people out.
    While many are being priced out and need Affordable Housing, they are then put on LONG waiting lists while out-of-towners are taking away the affordable homes from those who need them the most from the community. Affordable Housing, because of the current laws, doesn’t do anything for the community and is merely an BIG Development catch phrase. I truly believe in Affordable Housing but I think that it should be hyper local for each distinct community in order to insure that its not destroying long established social fabric.

  3. This is where Scott and Baskerville’s politics diverge from economic and social reality.

    While the courts have mandated government provide a certain percentage of new homes built for affordable housing — there is nothing that requires this to be built in every Montclair ward as they desire. To socially engineer that each neighborhood here is economically and racially “diverse.”

    That just doesn’t and hasn’t worked and the only thing that’s happened is very little new affordable housing has actually been built over the years. Only a few hundred thousand dollars was collected from developer fees. That’s because many developers will continue to pay the affordable housing unit penalty when building rather than give up a market rate unit to AH.

    So instead of actually helping build more affordable housing for the township in say the 4th ward where land can still be obtained and the construction-development economics work (with state and federal subsidies) — Scott and Baskerville don’t want any more affordable units there. They want to effectively ignore our real estate market and force new AH into every other ward.

    Does that make sense? No. Many lower SES residents of New York City wanted to also live on Central Park West and Riverside Drive Drive to obtain river views and get more quiet — but they couldn’t afford it. Instead, affordable Mitchel Lama and other project rental housing were built on Manhattan’s inner avenues — where land was available. And that helped those atabilize those residents and allow them to stay in the city amidst escalating prices. They, or their extended families, still remain today — as social beachheads against surrounding gentrification everywhere.

    Does this sound familiar to our situation? The fact is people with money now want to move here — partially for our diversity — which we are rapidly losing both to gentrification and due to high taxes. High taxes chase out even more low SES families who may own their houses outright, but now can’t afford the yearly real estate tax. So they sell.

    Affordable housing advocates completely ignore these economic and tax ramifications from their advocacy. That bringing in new, lower SES families from out of town adds even more tax burden to our existing population. It further chases out our working poor. That’s because each new family in a new affordable housing unit can cost the township like $40-60,000 tax revenues (from 2-3 kids) given the revenues not being collected. So the taxes go up even highter

    That’s why — as Frank G says above — the affordable housing focus should be on maintaining existing residents and families already here and those individuals who are working for the township – know as work-force housing

    You can’t fight that new affluent families and singles with money want to come to Montclair to live here. And that this puts pressure on homes and properties in less affluent neighborhoods and pressure on long time families to sell out and retire — furthering the upscale movement.

    Because what’s going on here is really market driven gentrification. Government is not causing it. So instead of fighting the market – Baskerville, Scott and his housing commission should recognize the underlying economics and market forces and work them — to actually accomplish something.

    Not just keep complaining about the lack of affordable housing.

  4. Hoping nonfatwithwhip, frankgg, spotontarget & friends attend the meeting in order to witness the discussion and lend their economic and social pragmatism, if necessary.

  5. We’re losing our diversity? By what metric? So, we need to import more needy families to town to strain our resources when current residents aren’t being taken care of and property owners are being blithely taxed into poverty? Explain how this makes any sense, you know, in a real world kind of way. Also, gentrification is a natural economic force that is behind much of the influx of NYC outer borough residents. Ask any hipster that was forced to move to an edgier area because they couldn’t afford their ideal neighborhood. The Brooklynites that are moving here in force probably never thought that they would fetch the kind of prices that their, once cutting edge, neighborhoods now command.

  6. “So, we need to import more needy families to town to strain our resources when current residents aren’t being taken care of and property owners are being blithely taxed into poverty”

    Look at this tripe:

    “more needy families”
    “current residents aren’t being taken care of”
    “property owners being blithely taxed into poverty”

    —only a “tinge” of hysterical emotionalism here, without one single solitary fact to back up the hysteria!

    “Hoping nonfatwithwhip, frankgg, spotontarget & friends attend the meeting in order to witness the discussion and lend their economic and social pragmatism, if necessary.”

    —as if…

  7. Is there a reason for the complete lack of creativity on this issue? Maybe it is the terminology. “Affordable” is taken to mean forever, with legal covenants, and government choosing who gets to call an affordable unit home.

    How about pushing for accessory apartments? We already ignore hundreds of illegal apartments, which are generally more affordable. Legalize them, and encourage more. How about focusing on homes with no mortgage since in tight times people take money out of their homes, which can put them in financial difficulty if the repayment becomes unaffordable? How about promoting local jobs for local residents, to possibly put more money in people’s pockets so they can afford more housing?

    These three examples may be poor ideas, but regardless it seems to me that solutions do not exist within the current paradigm.

  8. Townie,

    I appreciate your frustration with the current paradigm, but our current existing (AH) & proposed (Workforce Housing) strategies best provide for the consensus agreement on the needs expressed in our Master Plan. I would agree that the natural conflict between our wants, via government, and market pressures is the crux of many of our land use issues.

    Montclair’s success as a suburban community will fortify the market pressures that continue to make it less affordable. The 1-family residential properties pay the bills in this town. Maybe our R-1 dominance is a naive, anachronistic concept. Clearly & objectively it is inefficient land use. Questioning the primacy of this concept could offer a new land use paradigm, but create economic disruption, too. So, I believe it is unlikely anytime soon.

    To create accessory dwelling units and/or legalize illegal apartment units effectively upzones, in a quilt-like fashion our neighborhoods from R-1s, to R-2s, R-2s to R-3s, etc, etc. This doesn’t even address the challenge of bringing these units up to safety codes (e.g. fire). Further, while front yard parking is regularly violated in most all neighborhoods, it will become even worse with little distinction between sidewalk and paved over yards and with double and triple width curb cuts.

    We can and should make efforts, via public policy, to offset the trend and its magnitude. The best way seems to be through new units set-asides and legal conversions in an equitable, balanced and planned approach that minimizes the detriments. Maybe it would be better to increase existing zone capacity by reducing setbacks and increasing building heights? Something has to give since land is fixed.

    I dislike the accessory dwelling unit strategy as it invites more illegal conversions in the residential zones. As it is, Montclair has never been known for its code enforcement and ADUs will just exacerbate this existing deficiency. We did look at it and decided against it for this and other reasons.

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