Our goal is to help create safe, decent neighborhoods that families at all income levels can afford to call home. Working together with civic and community leaders, elected officials and nonprofit organizations, we seek to restore the charm and appeal that Trenton neighborhoods have long offered to families. In many of New Jersey’s cities, city officials have implemented laws that allow their cities to recapture vacant and abandoned properties, rehabilitating and in some cases replacing them, with the aim of returning them to the tax rolls. Turning abandoned and vacant properties into the homes and businesses Trenton needs will improve the stability of our city.
The first step is to begin using a law that Trenton already has on the books, and that has a proven track record in other NJ urban communities: the Abandoned Properties List Ordinance. Trenton passed the law, but hasn’t implemented it yet. To take advantage of this opportunity, Trenton needs to appoint a public officer to create an official list of abandoned properties. Creating this list would give the city new tools for addressing vacant properties where owners are not keeping the structures up to code. Cities like Newark that have taken this approach have found that by creating an abandoned properties list, as many as a quarter of the owners end up cleaning up their properties and putting them back to use on their own, without the city having to take further action or use its own resources.
Trenton can also improve another law already on the books, its Vacant Property Registration Ordinance. Tightening up this ordinance, making sure all abandoned property owners register, and charging them a reasonable registration fee would not only give the city greater ability to enforce its codes. It would also raise money to use for this purpose, so the city does not have to use scarce general fund dollars to deal with these properties.
Many New Jersey municipalities have already begun to reap the benefits of these ordinances. These cities have increased revenue to support neighborhood revitalization efforts, and many of the owners have made needed repairs to improve the quality of life for area residents. Trenton needs to take advantage of these opportunities as well. The most important thing that our city officials can do is appoint a Public Officer, once this is done, the list can be created. You can help us make that happen!
There are several ways that community organizations, neighborhood block associations and individuals can get involved to help. You can:
- Sign up for the Campaign.
- Send a letter to the Mayor and City Council urging them to address these issues. Click here for a sample you can use.
- Organize members of your community to attend city council meetings and voice your concerns about the abandoned property issues in your neighborhood.
- Organize a Neighborhood Abandoned Property Inventory Day, where you write up and take pictures of abandoned properties in your neighborhood to help create the list for the city. Click here for a form you can use.
- Share this article with friends, neighbors, and colleagues to educate them on the issue.
Let’s work together to take back our community, block by block, and see our neighborhoods restored!