Fair Share Housing Center

July 2024

Fair Share Housing Center’s (FSHC) mission is to dismantle decades of racial and economic discrimination in New Jersey and nationally that excludes people from the opportunity to reside in safe and decent housing and neighborhoods. FSHC challenges this discrimination through legal, policy, and community-building strategies on land use, housing, disaster recovery, and climate change. Since 1975, FSHC has fought against exclusionary land use policies that are a form of structural racism, harm, and disadvantage in lower-income families, especially families of color, and that perpetuate racial and economic segregation. FSHC has responded to this hyper-segregation by enforcing the Mount Laurel doctrine, which requires each municipality in New Jersey to provide its fair share of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income families.

In 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court reinvigorated enforcement of the Mount Laurel Doctrine and designated FSHC as an interested party in the review of every municipality’s affordable housing plan. Today, over 175,000 people live in affordable homes created as a result, with homes for another 75,000 people on the way from agreements FSHC has reached with over 340 municipalities including municipalities in Essex County.

FSHC assists municipalities in creating affordable housing development plans, known as Housing Element & Fair Share Plans, that meet affordable housing requirements and guidelines. FSHC ensures that plans include reserved units for very-low-income households, defined as those earning at or below 30% of the Area Median Income; units for individuals who require specialized support, including people with disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, and people experiencing homelessness; and are designed for families, meaning that new developments include three-bedroom units.

FSHC’s diligent enforcement and monitoring of Mount Laurel settlement agreements in Essex County specifically has resulted in significant progress, including:

  • A 100% affordable, 65-unit senior housing development broke ground in West Orange. This development includes five age-restricted units designated for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Fifty affordable homes will be built on the site of the Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell. Twenty-five will be age-restricted, 25 will be open to people of any age.
  • Livingston recently approved an ordinance to allow the development of 160 housing units, 20% of which will be set aside as affordable.

On March 18, 2024, FSHC championed the passage of New Jersey Legislature Senate Bill 50/Assembly Bill 4, a landmark piece of legislation that establishes a new, streamlined framework for determining and enforcing municipalities’ affordable housing obligations under the Mount Laurel Doctrine. The passage of S50/A4 comes alongside opportunities to support the expansion of statewide housing justice policies like the Fair Chance in Housing Act and First-Generation Homebuyers Program. FSHC is capitalizing on this critical moment to advance development of affordable homes and increase access to affordable housing.    

In May 2024, FSHC celebrated the 10th anniversary of the largest settlement in the history of the federal Fair Housing Act. FSHC was counsel in this settlement, which redistributed over a half-billion dollars to communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy, placing critical resources in the hands of low-income renters of color and giving them the opportunity to rebuild their lives. 

In June 2024, Schumann Fund awarded $40,000 to FSHC in operating support with a focus on team expansion. Augmenting its staff with a Community Organizer and Associate Planner will help FSHC connect its work more readily and authentically with grassroots racial, economic, and housing justice organizing, as well as promote inclusive development standards in all municipal affordable housing plans to foster inclusive communities. FSHC’s efforts are aligned with Schumann Fund’s affordable homes & healthy communities program priority and are advanced under the strategy of statewide public policy.    

FSHC disseminates a regular newsletter that lists affordable housing opportunities. You can sign up for the newsletter by visiting FSHC’s website.

“I’m grateful that Schumann Fund for New Jersey has chosen Fair Share Housing Center for a Grantee Spotlight, and excited to share some of our accomplishments over the past year! It is clear to us that Schumann Fund for New Jersey understands how to advance racial and economic justice in New Jersey and we’re elated that they’ve chosen to support FSHC to help further their mission. I’m also proud to showcase the amazing work of the entire FSHC team – we successfully advocated for S50/A4, the nation’s strongest affordable housing law, celebrated many groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings of new affordable homes, and are now preparing to expand our team to meet our new goals. Thank you to Schumann Fund for New Jersey for investing in FSHC and celebrating our work!”

– Adam Gordon, Executive Director, FSHC