New Jersey has been struggling with housing and its cost in many of its municipalities. New Jersey has the highest foreclosure rate in the country. In the last couple of years however, a decade-old law has started to make progress in alleviating this problem in some cities. The Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act has been working to restore dilapidated properties in derelict parcels into safe and functional homes.

This law gives cities a few powers that can help reestablish the availability of homes. “These include using eminent domain against small areas of ‘spot blight’, putting vacant and abandoned properties into receivership, and accelerating tax lien foreclosures, according to Berger” (Tyrrell). In East Orange, the director of property maintenance has pinpointed over 500 properties that require rehabilitation and he has started collecting fees from the latest owners that had abandoned them. This is a difficult assignment to take on due to the complication of locating owners that abandoned the properties when the value for them had plummeted. There has been some progress through careful investigative work, however. This act also increases the ability to acquire locations at normal costs. This allows the housing units to be offered up to individuals of various income levels.

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Suburban blight in Collingswood, NJ

“Making it easier for hard-pressed municipalities to amass vacant or abandoned properties could be a tool to streamline economic development” (Tyrrell). Such an initiative could progressively rebuild the housing market and increase the availability of affordable homes. It will allow the cities to focus more on acquiring old vacant houses and gives them a better opportunity to revive them. The cost of doing this is not as much of a burden on cities because they will utilize the ability to locate and bill previous owners. This improves blight in neighborhoods and creates better-looking cities. It also helps to remove concentration of poverty where you would see abandoned homes in most low-income areas in New Jersey. If more municipalities would utilize all the aspects of this act, it will help to decrease the decline of the housing market. While this is an old law, it hasn’t really gained traction until the last couple of years.

References

Tyrrell, Joe. “Housing.” Initiatives to Acquire, Revive Abandoned Homes Are Making Progress in New Jersey. NJ Spotlight, 17 Mar. 2015. Web.

Photo: http://www.newsworks.org

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