Background:Originally incorporated in 1820 and bounded by the Hudson River, Upper New York Bay,Hackensack 19th River and Newark Bay, Jersey City was an important dock and manufacturing town for much of the 20th and centuries. Over time the development of Jersey City’s waterfront, and in particular the construction of numerous high-rise buildings, led to the development of the Exchange Place financial district and a rapid increase in population. Today, Jersey City is home to one of the largest banking centers in the U.S., earning it the nickname “Wall Street West” and, is the second largest city in New Jersey.Jersey City’s rapid development has spurred rents that are increasing at a faster rate than income and has resulted in the construction of luxury units that target high income individuals and families over affordable units. Consequently, affordable housing is growing scarcer each year. The City is developing policies to address the affordable housing crisis and plans to construct more affordable units, but residents who need affordable housing still face significant challenges in finding affordable units and identifying available resources.Project Overview:The Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce (HEDC) published an Affordable Housing Resource and Process Study in 2019. One key finding in the report was the necessity to identify municipal affordable housing requirements as well as strategies to deliver new units through Redevelopment Areas, Redevelopment Agreements, and mixed income/mixed-use public/private partnership developments. Included in this study is the Housing Element for 2019 as drafted by the Division of City Planning. The Director of HEDC, together with the Division of Affordable Housing (DOAH), the Division of Community Development and the Division of City Planning, would like to further explore the Housing Element data in order to establish affordable housing needs by Ward and/or Redevelopment Areas or Census Tracts.Jersey City would like to identify what affordable housing numbers/percentages are required to meet the needs of the community in each sub area (i.e. by Ward or Redevelopment Plan area), recognizing that this need may go beyond what is required by the Council of Affordable Housing. The City desires uniformity of affordable housing targets as well as ability to define the type of housing based on
demographic information. This information is critical to inform negotiations with developers to secure affordable housing set-asides.The City produces a State of the City housing report every 5 years, however the Division of Affordable Housing will need the information from the housing element to go beyond this report and translate into actionable strategies for realistic affordable housing policies that are tailored to each Ward, Census Tract or other pertinent units of measurement. To that end, Jersey City is proposing to partner with the Masters program during the Fall 2020 semester to conduct a Capstone project around the topic of affordable housing. A needs assessment of sorts, the Capstone project will aim to develop metrics and/or tools to show the needs by area with the ability to calibrate using updated data.