Township of Hopewell, NJ
Mercer County
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[Ord. #97-1080]
It is the purpose of this chapter to help in meeting Hopewell Township's fair share housing obligation through provisions designed to facilitate the voluntary rehabilitation of substandard housing units occupied by low- and/or moderate-income households.
[Ord. #97-1080]
Definitions concerning housing rehabilitation not found below are the same as those definitions that appear in the rules and regulations adopted by the Council on Affordable Housing in N.J.A.C. 5:93 et seq. As used in this plan:
APPLICANT
Shall mean the person or persons applying for technical or financial assistance for housing rehabilitation according to this plan.
COUNCIL ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Shall mean the Council established by the New Jersey Fair Housing Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 et seq., and also is known as COAH.
HOUSING ADMINISTRATOR
Shall mean a person hired or appointed by the township to perform the duties as described in this plan.
INSPECTION OFFICER
Shall mean a qualified inspector hired or appointed by the township to perform the duties described in this plan.
LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLD
Shall mean a household with a gross household income equal to 50% or less of the median gross household income for households of the same size within the housing region in which the housing is located as determined by the Council on Affordable Housing in N.J.A.C. 5:93 et seq. or subsequent rules and regulations.
LOW-INCOME HOUSING
Shall mean housing affordable according to Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development or other recognized standards for home ownership and rental cost and occupied or reserved for occupancy by a low-income household.
MODERATE-INCOME HOUSEHOLD
Shall mean a household with a gross household income equal to or more than 50% but less than 80% of the median gross household income for households of the same size within the housing region in which the housing is located as determined by the Council on Affordable Housing in N.J.A.C. 5:93 et seq. or subsequent rules and regulations.
MODERATE-INCOME HOUSING
Shall mean housing affordable according to Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or other recognized standards of home ownership and rental cost and occupied or reserved for occupancy by a moderate-income household.
REHABILITATED UNIT
Shall mean a previously substandard housing unit that has undergone significant renovation to meet municipal or other applicable housing code standards as provided in this plan.
REHABILITATION PROGRAM
Shall mean the procedures and provisions of this plan to provide technical and/or financial assistance for the rehabilitation of substandard housing units occupied by low or moderate-income households.
SECTION 8 INCOME LIMITS
Shall mean the schedule of uncapped income limits published by HUD that defines 50% and 80% of median income by household size.
SUBSTANDARD HOUSING UNIT
Shall mean a housing unit with health and safety code violations that require the repair or replacement of a major system. A major system includes a roof, plumbing (including wells), heating, electricity, sanitary plumbing (including septic systems) and/or a loan bearing structural system.
UTILITY ALLOWANCE
Shall mean an allowance for utilities that is consistent with the personal benefit expense allowance for utilities as defined by HUD or a similar allowance approved by COAH.
[Ord. #97-1080]
Only owners of dwelling units within the Township of Hopewell are eligible for the provisions made available through this plan. Eligibility further is determined by the following criteria:
a. 
The homeowner either must live in a low or moderate-income household or must agree to rent the house to be rehabilitated to a low or moderate-income household. Proof of the owner's or the prospective renter's income will be required by the housing administrator.
b. 
A dwelling unit proposed to be rehabilitated must be considered a substandard housing unit according to this section.
c. 
The rehabilitation, upon completion, will result in a safe and sound dwelling unit and the satisfactory improvement of all deficient components of the eligible unit to meet municipal or other applicable housing code standards.
d. 
The homeowner must agree, in writing, to comply with all of the requirements set forth in this section.
[Ord. #97-1080]
a. 
Housing Administrator. The township committee shall appoint or retain the services of a housing administrator who will report directly to the township committee. The housing administrator shall establish specific, regular hours to meet with interested homeowners at a specified location. The administrator's duties shall include:
1. 
Affirmative marketing of the township's housing rehabilitation program through one or more of the following methods:
(a) 
Holding at least one public meeting, with a block advertisement published in the official newspaper, to answer questions about the program;
(b) 
Providing a poster highlighting the main features of the program to be hung on the community bulletin board;
(c) 
Issuing periodic press and/or cablevision releases to the official newspaper, to inform the public of news related to the program and to promote interest in the program; and
(d) 
Preparing information brochures and application packets for distribution to interested homeowners.
2. 
Developing necessary application and financial statement forms to be used by homeowners interested in applying for this program. The application will clearly say that any owner who uses the provisions of this plan for rental rehabilitation purposes will agree to place a deed restriction on his or her property. The application shall also say that any homeowner who receives a loan under the provisions of this plan will agree to place a lien, as specified in the rehabilitation program, on his or her property. In addition, the application shall require proof of ownership and general information on the property to be rehabilitated. Proposals for rehabilitation also should include a description and estimated cost of the work needed to improve the house to meet the parameters of the rehabilitation program. The financial statements form shall indicate that the financial information submitted will be kept strictly confidential.
3. 
Determining the eligibility of each applicant based on the requirements of this plan.
4. 
Maintaining a comprehensive file of all sources of financial assistance from federal, state and county programs for the rehabilitation of housing occupied by low and moderate-income households. The file on each program shall include general information about the program, application filing procedures and deadlines, the total appropriation for the program, and funding specifications for individual projects.
5. 
Preparing documents for use as applications for grants or loans to eligible applicants form relevant federal, state or county programs for the rehabilitation of housing occupied by low and moderate-income households. In addition, when applicable, the housing administrator will provide technical assistance to eligible applicants who must apply directly to federal, state or county programs to fund housing rehabilitation.
6. 
Providing technical assistance to eligible applicants to apply to the township for rehabilitation assistance.
7. 
Monitoring and overseeing of the deed restrictions and lien placed on properties that participate in the rehabilitation program.
8. 
Preparing and presenting an annual report to the township committee at the close of each fiscal year. The report shall compare the rehabilitation program's objectives with the accomplishments of each year. The report shall indicate the status, including any information available from the inspection officer, of the condition of each unit that has been or will be rehabilitated and shall include a full financial accounting of the program. The report may also contain recommendations for improving either the administrative or substantive elements of the program. The report shall be forwarded to the Council on Affordable Housing.
b. 
Staffing-Inspection Officer. The township committee shall designate a qualified inspection officer who will report to the township committee. The duties of the inspection officer shall include:
1. 
Determining that the dwelling unit proposed for rehabilitation qualifies as under the provisions of this section. The inspection officer's evaluation of the dwelling unit deficiencies shall be reported in writing to the housing administrator.
2. 
Determining whether or not the proposed description and cost estimate of work needed to rehabilitate the subject structure will meet the parameters of the program. The inspection officer's report on the description and cost of work shall be made in writing to the housing administrator.
3. 
Inspecting and, when completed, certifying that the rehabilitated unit meets all municipal or other applicable housing code standards. The certification shall bear the date of the inspection and shall be indicated by a written report to the housing administrator.
c. 
Staffing-Other.
1. 
The township may enlist the assistance of interested volunteers to serve as an "outreach committee" to carry out a variety of procedures to market the township rehabilitation program. Example of the procedures that may be employed include:
(a) 
Mailing information brochures with annual property tax bills.
(b) 
Holding informational meetings with:
(1) 
Civic and religious leaders and organizations;
(2) 
Senior citizen organizations;
(3) 
Community groups such as fire companies and PTAs; and
(4) 
Local social workers and welfare offices.
(c) 
Contacting households eligible to receive senior citizen property tax relief to explain the details of the township's rehabilitation program.
[Ord. #97-1080]
a. 
The township has included in past annual budgets sufficient funds to pay for the costs of administering the housing rehabilitation program. The money expended for preparing and implementing the housing rehabilitation program, according to the Fair Housing Act, shall be considered a mandated expenditure exempt from the limitations on final appropriations imposed pursuant to P.L. 1976, c.68 (C.40A:4-45.1 et seq.).
b. 
The township treasurer has been authorized to establish and maintain an interest bearing Fair Housing Trust account. The Fair Housing Trust account hereby is continued and all funds therein that have previously been or will hereafter be appropriated by the township committee for the purposes of funding the township's fair housing obligation hereby are declared to be valid and lawful appropriations of the township for the purposes set forth herein.
c. 
The township established development fees and an interest bearing Housing Trust Fund account to receive development fees paid by residential and nonresidential developers. Money in this account may be used for any activity approved by COAH for addressing the township's low and moderate-income housing obligation including housing rehabilitation.
d. 
A minimum of $10,000 per unit shall be provided of which $8,000 shall be allocated to the actual capital cost of rehabilitation and $2,000 shall be allocated to administrative costs. The actual capital costs may be less than $8,000 if, at the end of each two-year period, the rehabilitation averages at least $8,000 per unit. Costs associated with any required cost estimates shall be paid as administrative costs of the program and shall not be charged to applicants.
e. 
Procedures for Application, Review and Approval.
1. 
Interested homeowner will be able to secure information and application packets from the housing administrator or by calling or visiting the township clerk during office hours.
2. 
An interested homeowner will submit a completed application to the housing administrator.
3. 
The housing administrator will review the application for completeness and, once an application is complete, determine whether the applicant either meets income eligibility requirements or has signed a binding agreement stating his or her willingness to rent to a low or moderate-income household.
4. 
Upon a determination that an applicant interested in rehabilitation is eligible, the inspection officer will inspect the property to rule on whether it qualifies as "substandard" under the provisions of the program and whether or not the proposed description and cost estimate of work needed to improve the house will meet the parameters of the housing rehabilitation program. The inspection officer's determination will be submitted in writing to the housing administrator.
5. 
If the inspection officer determines that a unit proposed for rehabilitation qualifies as "substandard" but recommends an amended description and cost estimate of the work necessary to rehabilitate the unit, the applicant will be asked to revise the application to address, satisfactorily, the comments of the inspection officer.
6. 
If the inspection officer determines that a unit proposed for rehabilitation qualifies as "substandard" and that the proposed description and cost estimate of the work necessary to rehabilitate the unit is satisfactory, the housing administrator will determine whether or not the applicant is eligible for financial assistance to complete the work from a federal, state or county program and whether there is a realistic chance of the applicant receiving assistance from that program.
7. 
If the housing administrator determines that an applicant is eligible for financial assistance for rehabilitation from a federal, state or county program and there is a realistic chance for the applicant to receive such assistance, the housing administrator will offer as much technical assistance as the applicant desires and as the housing administrator can reasonably provide to prepare an application for the relevant programs.
8. 
When the housing administrator determines that an applicant is eligible for financial assistance to complete the rehabilitation, the housing administrator will forward the funding request to the township committee for a case approval. The housing administrator shall be available to discuss the application with the township committee at the time of its formal consideration.
9. 
If the township committee approves the application, the rehabilitation may begin as soon as the applicant has signed all of the necessary agreements.
10. 
If the township committee denies the application for rehabilitation, the specific reasons for rejection shall be given. The committee may deny an application only if it can be shown that the applicant is ineligible or that the proposed work plan is insufficient to bring the building into conformance with the parameters of the housing rehabilitation program.
[Ord. #97-1080]
Based on the appropriations described previously, loans will be made available from the township to eligible applicants under the terms specified below.
a. 
Rental Dwelling Unit. The following terms will apply to loans made for units that are owned be households who do not qualify as low or moderate income but who will agree to rent the property to a low or moderate-income household:
1. 
The township will make a loan to the applicant for the total amount of the cost of rehabilitation. Although the loan will be made to the applicant, the proceeds of the loan will be paid to the individual(s) or business(es) who sell the material and/or labor for the project.
2. 
The interest rate will be fixed at an annual rate of 5%.
3. 
Payments on the loan principle and interest will be deferred for a ten-year period.
4. 
Repayments of the loan principle and interest will become payable in full at the end of the 10 years. Prior to the end of the loan's ten-year life, the township's housing administrator will submit a letter to the owner indicating the date that the loan principle and interest will become due and when the township expects payment.
5. 
The owner will be required to insure the property for 80% of the value of the improvement on the property. If necessary, the township will also lend money for the cost of this insurance. The insurance policy shall acknowledge the township's lien on the property.
6. 
The owner may not rent to a non-income-eligible household.
b. 
Owner-Occupied Dwelling Units. The following terms will apply to units that are owner-occupied by low or moderate-income households:
1. 
The township will make a loan to the applicant for the total amount of the cost of rehabilitation. Although the loan will be made to the applicant, the proceeds of the loan will be paid to the individual(s) or business(es) who sell the material and/or labor for the project. Homeowners who contribute "sweat equity" will not receive financial enumeration.
2. 
The interest rate will be fixed at an annual rate of 0%.
3. 
Deferred payments on principle will be made available to the applicant as explained below.
4. 
Repayment of the loan will not be required until the sale of the property. At the time of sale, the unpaid principle plus accrued interest shall be paid to the township.
5. 
The owner will be required to insure the property for 80% of the value of the improvement on the property. If necessary, the township will also lend money for the cost of this insurance. The insurance policy shall acknowledge the township's lien on the property.
6. 
The township committee may waive repayment of loan principle upon consideration of an applicant's income level under conditions established by the township committee.
[Ord. #97-1080]
a. 
Liens of Property. Homeowners who receive financial assistance under the provisions of this plan shall be required to place a lien on the units to be rehabilitated. The following shall apply to such liens:
1. 
The township shall be specified as the lien holder.
2. 
The lien shall specify that the value of the lien equals the unpaid portion (principle and, when applicable, interest) of the monetary benefits (including tax abatements) received by the applicant under the housing rehabilitation program.
3. 
A record of the lien will be kept on the property tax record, in the county's tax files in the housing administrator's records and with the insurance policy as required by this section.
4. 
If a property under such a lien is sold prior to fulfillment of the obligations specified in the lien, the applicant will be required to repay the township for the value of the lien. If the applicant has made payments on a loan received under the rehabilitation program, those payments shall be deducted from the value of the lien to determine the amount due the township.
5. 
In the event of the death of an applicant, if the property is transferred or sold to either a surviving family member or dependent of the applicant and that family member or dependent lives in a low or moderate-income household, the lien may be transferred with the property and the surviving family member or dependent will be required to satisfy the lien under the same conditions as the original applicant, including the same opportunity for deferral.
6. 
All properties will be checked for liens prior to the issuance of a continuing certificate of occupancy. The issuing officer shall report any suspected violations of the program to the housing administrator for further investigation.
7. 
The homeowner shall notify the housing administrator, in writing, of the intent to sell a unit that has been rehabilitated under this program, if such a unit is still under restrictions required by this program.
b. 
Length of Affordability.
1. 
Homeowners who are owner-occupants and receive financial assistance under the provisions of this chapter shall place a lien on the property to specify that only a low or moderate-income household may occupy the housing unit. The lien shall take effect as soon as an application has been approved and money has been made available for the rehabilitation project.
2. 
Homeowners who utilize the provisions of this section and who rent the designated unit to someone else shall agree to place a deed restriction on his or her property. The deed restriction will state that only a low or moderate-income household will occupy a dwelling that has been rehabilitated under the provisions of this ordinance. The deed restriction shall be recorded and a copy of the recorded deed shall be forwarded to the housing administrator. The deed restriction shall go into effect as soon as the rehabilitation has been completed and shall apply for 10 years. Sale of the deed restricted property shall not affect the deed restriction.
c. 
Pricing. Homeowners who intend to rent to new tenants during the applicable deed restricted period, must follow the rental cost guidelines as given below, and as further determined in N.J.A.C. 5:92-1 et seq. or applicable subsequent rules and regulations.
1. 
Rents, including a utility allowance, shall be set so as not to exceed 30% of the gross monthly income of the appropriate household size. Maximum rent shall be calculated as a percentage of the current uncapped Section 8 income limit or other recognized standard adopted by COAH that applies to the rental housing unit.
2. 
The following criteria shall be considered in determining rents:
(a) 
Efficiency units shall be affordable to one person households;
(b) 
One-bedroom units shall be affordable to two-person households;
(c) 
Two-bedroom units shall be affordable to three-person households;
(d) 
Three-bedroom units shall be affordable to five-person households; and
(e) 
Four-bedroom units shall be affordable to seven-person households.
Housing units that satisfy the criteria in items (a) through (e) above shall be considered affordable. Median income by household size shall be established by the current uncapped Section 8 income limits published by HUD or other recognized standard adopted by COAH.
d. 
Annual Indexed Increases. Upon application by the homeowner to the housing administrator and approval by the township committee, the rents of affordable housing units may be increased. This increase shall be based on the percentage increase in median income for each housing region as determined from the current uncapped Section 8 income limits, published by HUD or other recognized standard adopted by COAH.
[Ord. #97-1080]
The housing rehabilitation program will comply with all the regulations of the Council on Affordable Housing and with the applicable rules and regulations of any funding or other assistance programs that are applied for and approved.
[Ord. #01-1191]
The attached Housing Rehabilitation Program "Policy and Procedural Manual," prepared by Housing Services, Inc., and dated March, 2001, is hereby approved and adopted by the Township of Hopewell.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The manual referred to herein may be found on file in the office of the Township Clerk.