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Advance Housing, Inc. and Advance Housing 2000 v. Township of Teaneck

October 4, 2011

ADVANCE HOUSING, INC. AND ADVANCE HOUSING 2000, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF TEANECK, BOROUGH OF BERGENFIELD, BOROUGH OF LITTLE FERRY, BOROUGH OF RAMSEY, BOROUGH OF RIDGEFIELD PARK, BOROUGH OF LODI, BOROUGH OF FAIRVIEW, BOROUGH OF LEONIA, CITY OF HACKENSACK, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Tax Court of New Jersey, Docket Nos. 4758-02, 4760-02, 4761-02, 4762-02, 4763-02, 4764-02, 4765-02, 4766-02, 4767-02, 4769-02, 4770-02, 4771-02, 4772-02, 5229-03, 5230-03, 5231-03, 5232-03, 5234-03, 5235-03, 5236-03, 5237-03, 5238-03, 5239-03, 5240-03, 5241-03, 5242-03, 5243-03, 6389-04, 6391-04, 6393-04, 6394-04, 6395-04, 6396-04, 6397-04, 6398-04, 6399-04, 6400-04, 7285-04, 7292-04, 7294-04, 7297-04.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Waugh, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued March 15, 2011

Before Judges Carchman, Messano, and Waugh.

The opinion of the court was delivered by WAUGH, J.A.D.

Plaintiffs Advance Housing, Inc. (Advance Housing), and its subsidiary Advance Housing 2000, Inc. (Advance 2000), appeal the September 2, 2009 judgment of the Tax Court denying them real property tax exemptions under N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.6 for tax years 2002 through 2004 for properties they own in nine municipalities in Bergen County. We reverse.

I.

We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.

A.

Advance Housing is a non-profit corporation that provides affordable, supportive housing and services for people with severe and persistent psychiatric disabilities. According to its by-laws, Advance Housing was organized, among other reasons, "[t]o promote and provide permanent normalized community living arrangements for psychiatrically disabled individuals in Bergen County, New Jersey" and "[t]o promote and provide decent, affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income families or family members who are psychiatrically disabled." Its certification of incorporation contains similar language.

Advance 2000's by-laws provide that it was organized

[t]o [provide] elderly or disabled persons with housing facilities and services specifically designed to meet their physical, social and psychological needs, and to promote their health, security, happiness and usefulness in longer living, the charges for such facilities and services to be predicated upon the provision, maintenance and operation thereof on a nonprofit basis.

Its certification of incorporation contains similar language.

Plaintiffs describe supportive housing as a more cost-effective alternative to group homes as a vehicle to effectuate the de-institutionalization of people with significant psychiatric disabilities. Plaintiffs also describe it as a more cost-effective approach to addressing the needs of the homeless with those disabilities, who would otherwise require more expensive periodic hospitalization or might become involved with the criminal justice system.

Kevin Martone, Advance Housing's former President and Chief Executive Officer, certified that approximately seventy percent of plaintiffs' clients "had been institutionalized for significant periods of time; [and that] all others had a history of psychiatric hospitalization, homelessness or were at risk of homelessness due to their psychiatric disability." Plaintiffs contend that their model of supportive housing "blends comprehensive, flexible services with affordable, lease-based housing." They rely primarily on grants from governmental and charitable sources to cover the costs of the services and housing they provide.

The services offered by Advance Housing include supportive counseling and intervention; medication monitoring and education; vocational training and guidance; budgeting assistance; coordination of benefits and entitlements; transportation to medical and other appointments; nursing assessments and medical follow-up; assistance with meal planning and food shopping; crisis intervention; assistance and training in apartment maintenance; assistance with activities of daily living such as personal hygiene, grooming, cooking, cleaning, and paying bills; and linkage to and communication with other services such as day programs and Social Security. Martone estimated that ninety-nine percent of these services take place in the client's residence.

The frequency of services provided by Advance Housing varies from person to person. Some clients are seen every day, while others are seen once a week. In addition, Advance Housing's case managers have telephone contact with clients, as well as their service providers, physicians, and benefit agencies.

Advance Housing provides supportive services and counseling for the residents of all the properties at issue, as well as residents of housing not provided by either plaintiff. It has approximately 105 clients receiving supportive services, thirty-five of whom reside in the fourteen properties involved in this appeal.*fn1 Advance Housing assists prospective clients in obtaining housing from third-parties if it is unable to provide housing itself or through Advance 2000.

Advance Housing obtained funding to purchase the subject properties from a variety of sources, including the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Division of Mental Health Services in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and county-run programs. Additional funding was obtained through private ...


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