Municipal Leaders Devise Solutions to Enhance Neighborhoods
Today the Housing and Community Development Network’s Union County Advocacy Team hosted a forum for local officials to discuss neighborhood stabilization strategies. The event geared towards municipal public safety and code enforcement professionals, largely focused on strategies for dealing with vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties.
"This forum brings together local officials addressing problem properties in their municipalities," said Diane Sterner, executive director for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "Municipal and community leaders need access to the best tools and strategies available to help them both advance their redevelopment goals and bounce back economically. This is an opportunity to share those ideas among those who are empowered to create vibrant communities."
The forum, "Successful Strategies for Stabilizing Neighborhoods" honed in on opportunities for municipal officials and for non-profit and for profit developers. Recognizing the need and capability to transform their communities into thriving places, attendees discussed strategies that have worked well and those that have not been so successful. A common interest among participants was to develop strategies that foster the creation of homes and jobs in economically and in environmentally viable places that have good access to transit and the other civic resources that these cities possess or can develop.
Public policy was at the center of conversation as leaders reviewed policies that were essential to improve neighborhood stabilization efforts. Abandoned property ordinances and land banks were among those ideas. Also discussed was legislation currently before the State Legislature that would specifically address foreclosed properties throughout the state. Senator Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, offered forum participants insight to what the bill would do for municipalities.
"Boarded up, unoccupied foreclosed homes are a blight on neighborhoods, create crime problems and reduce property values," said Senator Lesniak. "My legislation will enable the State Housing Mortgage Finance Agency to facilitate the transformation of these homes into affordable housing by providing financing to investors and non-profit organizations. It will remove the drag on property values and our economic recovery caused by burden of foreclosed homes."
Presenters at the event included Arnold Cohen, policy coordinator for the Network; Rodney Hairston, real estate officer for Jersey City; Susan Ucci, director for the division of planning and community development for the City of Elizabeth. Also addressing forum participants were the Honorable Rick Proctor, mayor of Rahway as well as Professional Planner and Union County Advocacy Chairman Vito Gallo.
To learn more about the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, visit www.hcdnnj.org.
For more information: Nina Arce