The voice of community development
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Urban Essex County, New Jersey, one of the hardest hit areas in the state by the ongoing foreclosure crisis, could be the laboratory for a reinvention of community development. A local CDC there has completed the successful acquisition, by way of an alliance of nonprofits, of 47 mortgages expected to foreclose with an eye toward stabilizing neighborhoods in some of the oldest suburban communities in New Jersey.
Under President Obama, data transparency, private-sector innovation, and a renewed commitment to expanding opportunity could revolutionize housing and urban planning. But just as proponents of equity, open government data, and social entrepreneurship are being appointed to key positions, and while the administration is still young, the new HUD/DOT sustainable communities initiative illustrates why the devil is in the details.
New Jersey’s Paterson is among the nation’s oldest planned industrial cities, but it has fallen on hard times since the once-booming silk industry there declined in the latter half of the 20th century. Much of the industry in this city of 150,000 has since left, but now a geological attraction once envisioned by Alexander Hamilton as something that could be harnessed for industrial might, is fully protected, and could be channeled, this time, for its community-building potential.