Thriving Cities Report Offers Policy Priorities and Recommendations for NJ Urban Revitalization


The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) today unveiled a report aimed at supporting revitalization efforts in New Jersey’s urban cities. Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda features a series of policy recommendations to encourage equitable investment in urban communities, and preserve the ability of long-term residents to avoid displacement where new investment is bringing change.

“In response to renewed investment in New Jersey’s urban areas, community developers and other stakeholders are working together to ensure equitable revitalization,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “NJ should support development while ensuring our cities provide opportunities for long-term residents to thrive. No one should be priced out of their neighborhood in the name of progress.”

For the past year, the Network along with its members and key partners have worked together to craft comprehensive and interdependent policy recommendations. Policies originally proposed by the Network before the Great Recession, were revised to meet current conditions and vetted with community leaders in dozens of meetings in nearly every county in the state. Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda consists of thirteen targeted priority areas: economic growth and workforce development; optimizing housing production to make cities more affordable; healthier homes in healthier communities; protecting homebuyer, homeowner, and tenants’ rights; redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization; land use, infrastructure, and the environment; increasing government and civic leadership capacity; public safety and crime prevention; ending homelessness; access to reliable transportation; revenue reform to promote needed public investment; natural disaster and emergency preparedness; and ending the foreclosure crisis.

“As some areas of our state begin to recover from the foreclosure crisis and market collapse, far too many New Jersey communities and neighborhoods are still mired in the crisis,” stated Wayne T. Meyer, President of Network member New Jersey Community Capital. “This report provides a roadmap for helping those families and individuals in need begin to thrive and recommends ways to keep even more New Jerseyans from suffering the dire consequences of economic growth and prosperity that is not equitable or sustainable.”

The recommendations provided in each of the priority areas reflect the interconnectedness of problems — and solutions. Several recommendations are under consideration as legislation in the State Legislature. For example, one recommendation for ending the foreclosure crisis includes enabling municipalities to create land banks to facilitate moving problem properties into productive use. Land banking legislation now awaits final passage in the NJ Senate and Assembly after gaining approval in their respective Economic Growth Committees.

“There are a significant number of revitalization efforts that are succeeding in our state but we still have much more to do in order for our cities to flourish,” said John Restrepo, Network board chair and director of housing and community development for Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation. “A New Urban Agenda recognizes the crucial role cities have on our state's economy. The policies that make up the Agenda reflect the interconnectedness of the problems, needs and solutions needed for NJ to thrive.”

The Network staff worked with an advisory committee to analyze and address the feedback from stakeholder meetings to generate recommendations that reflect the majority of opinions. The committee featured representatives from the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, RWJBarnabas Health, Ironbound Community Corporation, the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison State University, Solutions to End Poverty Soon, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State Council of NJ-NAACP Chapters, New Jersey Community Capital, New Jersey Urban Mayor's Association and Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation.

“It was an honor to work with HCDN of NJ on the Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda Report," said Barbara George Johnson, executive director, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. "The Watson Institute has been providing policy analysis for NJUMA for over 25 years. We are thrilled to see that urban centers are the focus of national and state economic initiatives. However, as stated in the report, we must plan the revitalization of urban centers with the involvement of long standing community members. All residents must benefit from urban rising.”

Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda project was funded by a generous contribution from
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Global Philanthropy. Speaking on behalf of JPMorgan Chase & Co. at today’s event which took place at the Masonic Temple located in Trenton, NJ was Vice-President and Community Development Program Officer Michael Johnson.

“Much of JPMorgan Chase’s Corporate Responsibility work is focused in the world’s cities, where the benefits of revitalization are not reaching everyone,” said Michael Johnson. The unparalleled work of the Network combined with our firm’s expertise working with and investing in cities is a model for driving inclusive growth to help cities realize their potential as engines of growth and a shared prosperity. That is why we are proud to support the Network and Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda.”

Other featured speakers included the Honorable Reed Gusciora, mayor, City of Trenton; Shoshanna M. Page, project specialist/fellow, New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University; DeAnna Minus-Vincent, assistant vice president, social impact & community investment, RWJBarnabas Health; and Joe DellaFave, executive director, Ironbound Community Corporation.

To view Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda, visit

About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit

For more information: Nina Rainiero
(609) 393-3752 x1200
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