on Behalf of Public and External Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School 
Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University 


Thursday April 26, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM EDT

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Frist Campus Center, Multi-Purpose Room B 
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08540

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Woodrow Wilson School Policy Forum:


Forty Years after Mt. Laurel
New Findings about the Effects of Affordable Housing


Thursday, April 26th
8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Woodrow Wilson School
Princeton University

Housing Policy ForumForty years ago, a New Jersey Superior Court handed down an historic decision that changed the discourse about affordable housing in New Jersey.  On May 1, 1972, the court released its decision in Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel, finding that the town’s zoning ordinance, which effectively deprived the poor of adequate housing and discriminated against them, was constitutionally invalid.  The state Supreme Court agreed (though on different grounds) in 1975 and created, under a case known as Mt. Laurel I, the “Mt. Laurel doctrine.”  The doctrine requires every municipality's land use regulations, as well as those of state agencies with land use responsibilities, to affirmatively provide a "realistic opportunity" for construction of their fair share of the regional need for housing affordable to low and moderate income households.  Litigation followed in Mt. Laurel II to address remedies, and, at the urging of the court, legislation was passed to hammer out the details and implement what the court defined as the state constitutional obligation.

The doctrine and the grounds on which it is based – that zoning that excludes low and moderate housing opportunities is a form of economic discrimination prohibited by the state constitution – are still controversial today.  At the heart of the discussion is the speculation that affordable housing will increase crime, decrease property values, and diminish neighborhoods.  Are these concerns valid?  Today’s discussion will introduce new research, based on the experience of Ethel R. Lawrence Homes, a 140-unit, 100% affordable family rental project developed in Mount Laurel, NJ, that demonstrates that many of the fears of the ill-effects of affordable housing are unfounded.

The format for this event will be presentation and discussion. Four researchers will each give a 15-20 minute overview of this new research.  The second panel will consist of stakeholders asking the researchers questions about what the literature says about various policy initiatives.  The goal of this format is to have the Stakeholder panel shape the discussion about how the research should and will affect decisions that New Jersey must make as it considers housing policy going forward. 

This event is free but by Invitation Only and requires registration.


8:00 am               Continental Breakfast and Registration

9:00 am               Welcome

                            Christina Paxson

9:20 am               Historical Overview

                             David N. Kinsey

9:40 am              Reflections on the Mt. Laurel Litigation and the Municipal Approval Experience of     Ethel R. Lawrence Homes

                              Carl S. Bisgaier

10:00 am              Research Results Overview

                              Douglas S. Massey
                              Rebecca Casciano
                              Elizabeth Derickson
                              Len Albright

                              Reflections on the Research Results

                              Peter O’Connor

11:45 am               Lunch

12:30 pm               Stakeholder Reflection

                              Diane Sterner
                              Ed Schmierer
                              Timothy Touhey
                              Jerry Green (invited)
                              Anthony Marchetta

1:30 pm                  Audience Response

2:15 pm                  Closing Remarks

                                Michael Stegman


Len Albright:  Postdoctoral Research Associate, Office of Population Research

Carl S. Bisgaier: Partner, Bisgaier and Hoff, Haddonfield, NJ.  At Camden Regional Legal Services in the early 1970s he conceived the Mount Laurel litigation and was the lead attorney for the plaintiffs through Mount Laurel II

Rebecca Casciano: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Population Research, Princeton University

Elizabeth Derickson:  Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, Princeton University

Jerry Green: Assemblyman, (D) Plainfield, NJ; Chair, New Jersey Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee

David N. Kinsey: Partner, Kinsey & Hand, Princeton, NJ; Visiting Lecturer of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Anthony Marchetta:  Executive Director, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency

Douglas S. Massey: Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School. Director, Office of Population Research. Director, Program in Population Studies                                   

Peter O'Connor: Founder and Executive Director of Fair Share Housing Development, Inc., the nonprofit developer of Ethel R. Lawrence Homes.  O'Connor has also represented the plaintiffs in the remedial phase of the Mount Laurel litigation since 1985

Ed Schmierer: Director, Mason, Griffin & Pierson, Princeton, NJ.  Schmierer served as special Mount Laurel counsel throughout New Jersey

Michael Stegman: Counselor for Housing Finance Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Diane Sterner: Executive Director, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey

Timothy Touhey: CEO New Jersey Builders Association, former Executive Director, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency