In recent years, the City of New Brunswick has undergone many new development projects and the process is continuing today. Of the new developments in Hub City, many have been housing structures of various types, such as the Vue on Somerset Street and a few smaller scale apartment buildings in ward six. The city recently released a “Consolidated Annual Action Plan” for the upcoming year of July 2014, to June 2015. Many of the objectives laid out in this plan are geared towards residential revitalization to reduce the deterioration of current residential neighborhoods. The city wishes to increase the number of owner occupied houses in hopes that this will also increase the general upkeep of homes. One of the issues contributing to neighborhood deterioration in New Brunswick is the fact that it is home to two Rutgers campuses.
Rutgers students make up a large portion of New Brunswick’s population, and many students live off-campus and are therefore living within the municipality. Of all housing units in New Brunswick, 75% are rental units, and the demand for more housing overall is increasing. As Rutgers is undergoing its own massive development project which will draw new attention to the university, an influx of increasing numbers of students over the upcoming years is definitely possible. This will increase the demand for rental housing within New Brunswick, which is why there has been such a large wave of apartment complex development. The city hopes to move Rutgers students out of its housing stock and into Rutgers on-campus housing and apartment complexes, in order to increase owner occupancy in certain wards that are currently dominated by students.
This Consolidated Action Plan shows that New Brunswick is aware of the housing issues plaguing the city, but some recent development raises questions as to whether the current actions being taken by developers are a step in the right direction. The Somerset Street Mews apartment complex that is currently being built intends to have only 20% of its units at affordable rates. Local news blog, New Brunswick Today, has questioned whether these units will actually be affordable, claiming that the development company has not kept affordable housing promises in the past. According to the Consolidated Action Plan, the development has received state funding from four different agencies based on its mixed-income nature. Though some have argued that affordable units are not needed in that area of the city, I believe that a city like New Brunswick should take any opportunity it gets to offer affordable housing.