March 1, 2023

Mayor Freda Responds to Letter Regarding Fair Share Housing

To the Editor:

I thank Town Topics for sharing this letter with me and the opportunity to reply to it. I also extend an invitation to the letter signers to talk about this. I am a big believer in the idea of actually talking to someone you may disagree with or believe has wrong information; I always welcome anyone to do this with me. You do not have to agree with me for me to listen to you.

I believe that the letter was written after reading a newspaper article referring to a panel discussion I participated in. There was a question and answer session after the panel talked, so I am assuming this letter is based on the newspaper article and not having actually heard all of my comments. If the information I have been given about how Fair Share Housing is funded is incorrect; I have no problem accepting that. And correcting that.

Here is the crux of what I said.

I do not like the fact that inclusionary developments typically provide 80 percent market rates and 20 percent affordable units. I wish the ratio was titled to provide more affordable units. I think that political leaders should try to find ways to increase the number of affordable units provided in these developments.

I also commented that the size and quality of the interiors of the affordable units in many of these developments differ in less than the size and quality of interiors from the market rate units. I do not agree with the difference in quality, and I feel the units are typically undersized. I will note that one of the developers Princeton is using right now does not follow this practice and I applaud them for that.

I commented that since COAH was gutted under former Governor Christie the courts are much more involved in the affordable housing process. And I believe a robust COAH could provide a more consistent and accessible process for municipalities to work with to meet affordable housing obligations.

My record of supporting and pushing for affordable housing in our community goes back decades. My continued support that we do more, and that we push for improving the system to deliver affordable housing, is something that I believe someone in my position should be talking about.

We may have different opinions; but we need to work together to find common ground and move forward. I am always open to and welcome constructive engagement.

Mark Freda
Princeton Mayor
Witherspoon Street