Municipal Officials Take Aim at Problem Properties Plaguing NJ
Forum explores restoring towns of vacant and abandoned properties


Municipal officials from across the state convened at a forum in South Jersey to explore best practices for managing vacant and abandoned problem properties. Local decision makers including mayors, councilmembers, and department heads participated in the day long forum will assist them in developing a problem property strategy in their communities.
“The issue of abandoned and vacant properties is a challenge for many municipalities around the state. So many local officials and community leaders are here today to learn how we can restore these areas to productive use,” said the Honorable Carolyn Chang, mayor of Westampton Township. “My colleagues and I are excited to learn about tools available to us to address these properties to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

“In 2008 when the entire nation experienced an economic plunge, it affected many communities— with foreclosed homes, unemployment and declined commerce,” said the Honorable Wilda Diaz, mayor of the City of Perth Amboy and president of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association. “Today, it is great to have a cross section of our southern municipalities working together to address the issue of abandoned properties, as we work towards rebuilding our economic status, beautifying our cities and addressing the needs of our community.”
To assist municipal officials with developing their own vacant property strategies, experts shared tools and best practices for reclaiming vacant properties along with municipal case studies. Participants also how to utilize tools available at their disposal through the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, and other legal avenues, to address these problem properties, including strategic code enforcement, vacant property registry and inspection programs, and taking title to abandoned properties.
Participants described the opportunities and barriers their communities face, including:
“Most of our properties are vacant houses, we have a couple hundred in total throughout the town in all income group developments and in rural areas. The challenge is finding the real owners to hold responsible.”
“We do tax liens on vacant properties so that we can fix the problems like dead trees and high grass. The most difficult problem we face is finding banks or people responsible for the property. Some properties take up to a couple of years to notify us of changes.”
“The problem of keeping the houses in good repair is costly to our City. Neighbors do not like to see overgrown plantings/grass and a house next door in disrepair.”
Today’s forum was hosted by the Affordable Homes Group, the Borough of Roselle, the Center for Community Progress, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, New Jersey Community Capital, the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, and Thomas Edison State College John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. Special guests included the Honorable Wilda Diaz, mayor of the City of Perth Amboy and president of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and the Honorable Carolyn Chang, mayor of the City of Westampton.

For more information:  Nina Arce
(609) 393-3752 x1200
(609) 789-7900
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