Marketing plan will advise region’s residents of affordable housing availability

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The first shovel of dirt has not yet been tossed, but Hopewell Township officials are already preparing a marketing plan for the potential 653 affordable housing units that will be built in the township as a result of a settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center.

The Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill, which advocates for affordable housing, sued Hopewell Township and dozens of municipalities statewide to require them to provide a realistic opportunity for the construction of housing that very low-, low- and moderate-income households can afford.

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Towns across New Jersey are required to provide an opportunity for the construction of affordable housing units – the result of a series of lawsuits and judgments that grew out of the original Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel lawsuit in 1972. The litigation initially was filed over exclusionary zoning – minimum lot sizes that stymied the development of smaller, affordable houses.

Hopewell Township has already met its obligation to provide for affordable housing under two prior rounds set out by the defunct state Council on Affordable Housing. But the Fair Share Housing Center sued the township to create opportunities to build additional affordable housing units – resulting in the settlement agreement to require 653 units.

But how will Hopewell Township find buyers or renters for those 653 units, if they are ever built?

That’s where the Affirmative Marketing Plan – which Township Committee members adopted at their Aug. 27 meeting – fits into the picture. The plan is a requirement of the settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center.

The Affirmative Marketing Plan sets out the steps necessary to attract would-be buyers and renters to occupy affordable housing units that have already been built, and the new ones that may follow. The plan also applies to any rehabilitated rental units.

The marketing plan will be carried out by an administrative agent hired by Hopewell Township. All of the costs of advertising the affordable units will be paid by the developers, sellers and owners of the affordable housing units.

At its heart, the Affirmative Marketing Plan is a regional marketing strategy that seeks to attract buyers and renters – regardless of race, creed, national origin, ancestry, marital or familial status, gender, affectional or sexual orientation, disability, age or any number of children.

The Affirmative Marketing Plan is geared toward residents and employees who live in Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties. Administrators will place advertisements in newspapers, such as The Times of Trenton and the Trentonian, as well as other publications in the region, and by contacting regional employers to post advertisements and fliers alerting employees of the housing opportunities.

Advertisements, brochures and fliers will also be available at the Hopewell Township municipal building, on the township’s website and at the Hopewell Township branch of the Mercer County Library System.

And, information will be placed in the Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean county administration buildings and on the county websites.

Special outreach will be made to organizations that include the Fair Share Housing Center, the Latino Action Network, Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, and branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The plan will list the name and address of a housing development, the size and number of units, including for sale units and rental units, and their respective prices. It will include the name of the sales agent or rental manager, and also describe the random selection method to be used to select the initial occupants.

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