Five NJ Cities Receive Help to Revitalize

March 15, 2011

Five cities in New Jersey looking to make improvements to crumbling, abandoned or vacant structures have been chosen to participate in a new program to help them do just that. Certain neighborhoods in the cities have been hit pretty hard partly due to the foreclosure crisis. There are clusters of foreclosed homes in many of these neighborhoods and it's gotten to a level that is difficult for cities to deal with the tools, they currently have, especially with recent layoffs.

The Housing And Community Development Network of New Jersey says Orange, Irvington, Newark, Jersey City, and Millville have been selected for the new initiative from the Center for Community Progress, which specializes in the reuse of vacant, abandoned, and problem properties in america's cities.

Diane Sterner Executive Director Of The Housing And Community Development Network of NJ, says the five cities that were chosen currently have a commitment to working on revitalization and this will give them new tools and strategies to help them do that.

"We're hoping that they'll be able to learn some new ways to do more with less and put some systems in place that will make it more economical and efficient." Sterner said.

The structures will eventually used for whatever plan is in place in that particular community, from housing developments, parks, commercial establishments, etc.

Local leaders from the chosen towns will participate in a week long session to be held at Harvard University. New Jersey is one of only four states chosen to participate in this national leadership institute focusing on adaptive reuse and turning vacant properties into community assets.

"New Jersey's cities can help advance our state's economic recovery by reusing vacant and abandoned properties," said Sterner. "Productive use of these spaces will increase property tax revenue, lower crime, and make our cities more vibrant places."

Taking into account the challenges with public policy in this area, the Harvard session will include a specific focus on the leadership roles that state and local officials must play to making productive reuse and revitalization happen.

Racquel Williams Reporting
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