Smart Move Program

The Smart Move Program is a housing development pilot program that will work with local units of government that have partnered with developers to create quality, energy-efficient, resilient, and affordable single-family housing in lower flood risk areas within or near disaster-impacted communities.

Once the homes are constructed, the program will provide a path to affordable homeownership for Hurricane Ida-impacted residents, so they may stay near their communities. The program will prioritize Blue Acres participants who sold their high-risk properties and income-qualified, first-time homebuyers, offering a discounted final sale price and down payment assistance.

Phase I: Housing Development

Local governments that partnered with developers were able to apply with a housing development project. The application period closed on April 4, 2024.

Applications will be scored competitively based on cost effectiveness, resiliency measures, innovative housing approaches, and other factors.

Eligible Applicants

Local government units such as cities, townships, and counties, within one of the following most impacted and distressed (MID) counties are eligible to apply to the program: Bergen, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union, and Warren.

Click on the Smart Move Instructional Presentation for a program overview and information on the application process.

Program Implementation

The program will be implemented under a local government-led model with an overlay of DCA providing overall program management and oversight.

The local government, serving as subrecipient, will:

  • be responsible for efforts necessary to carry out activities.
  • procure a for-profit or nonprofit developer and, if selected, will enter into a development agreement.

The developer will control the site, retain ownership of the development project, and sell properties to eligible homebuyers.

Maximum Award

The program will award a maximum of $15 million per project.

Eligible Activities

Smart Move will provide funds for the construction of single-family housing units and eligible activities related to the delivery of the units.

Award Details

DCA may provide funds for the following housing development costs:

  • Land acquisition (up to 50%)
  • Infrastructure (up to 100%)
  • Other items included in the budget (architecture and engineering, permits, developer fees, etc.)
  • Subrecipient activity delivery costs
  • Developer incentives per unit:
    • 50% of the market sales price for low- to moderate-income (LMI) units
    • 33% of the market sales price for urgent need (UN) units
    • *0% of the market sales price for market rate units

*DCA encourages developers to include market rate homes in the unit mix given the benefits of mixed-income communities. However, market rate homes will not be eligible for program incentives and DCA will not be involved in the sale of the market rate homes.

Project Characteristics

Applicants must submit projects that meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Located in a designated MID-area.
  • Located outside the 500-year floodplain and the inland or coastal climate adjusted floodplain, as defined by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
  • Contain a minimum of six (6) single-family housing units.
  • Completed by January 13, 2028.
  • Serves mixed-income households:
    • At least 70% must be low- to moderate-income (LMI) households, which are households making 80% or less of the area median income.
    • Remaining 30% may serve urgent need (UN) households that make up to 120% of area median income.
    • Market rate homes are encouraged and have no income criteria.
  • Meets or exceeds green and energy efficiency standards
  • May be one of the following project types:
    • New construction of single-family subdivisions
    • Infill/scattered site development
    • Adaptive reuse/conversions
  • Within the project types, the program will also allow for:
    • Attached or detached single-family homes
    • Innovative housing construction (examples include but are not limited to 3D printed homes, tiny homes, and modular homes)

Phase II: Homebuyer Assistance

Phase II of the Smart Move Program will be launched as projects in Phase I are nearing completion.  

To participate in the program, homebuyers must meet the following requirements:

  • Have either (1) received a buyout through the DEP Blue Acres Program or (2) be first-time homebuyers with household incomes at or below 120% of AMI.
  • Meet all loan requirements.
  • Occupy the property as the primary residence.
  • Priority Households
    • Blue Acres participants within the local government jurisdiction of the housing development.
    • Blue Acres participants outside the local government jurisdiction/first-time homebuyers at or below 120% AMI.
  • Income-Qualified
    • At least 70% of the homes within each development must be sold to LMI households (incomes at or below 80% of AMI).
    • The remaining 30% of homes can be sold to UN households (80% -120% AMI).
Purchase Assistance to Homebuyers

To make the homes affordable, program participants will be offered assistance with purchasing the home. The assistance will be in the form of a purchase price discount and down payment assistance.

Purchase Price Discount

The purchase price discount is a reduction on the sales price of the home, making the price of the home lower than the market sale price and more affordable to lower income households.

  • Up to 50% discount for LMI homebuyers.
  • Up to 33% discount for UN homebuyers.

Down Payment Assistance

The amount of actual down payment assistance will be determined based on need during the underwriting and first mortgage loan approval process.

  • Up to 20% assistance for LMI homebuyers.
  • Up to 10% assistance for UN homebuyers.