Thriving Cities Take Collaboration
“Always uplift, never uproot.” That maxim was greeted with applause by the people who gathered in Trenton Wednesday to mark the release of “Thriving Cities: A New Urban Agenda”, a roadmap for strengthening New Jersey’s urban communities. The speaker was Joe Della Fave of the Ironbound Community Corporation, one in a long string of participants who spoke of their commitment to revitalize New Jersey cities, and a member of the advisory committee to the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ (HCDNNJ, or “The Network”), which authored this annual report.
The “Thriving Cities” annual report is rich in proposals for equitable investment in some of the state’s struggling neighborhoods. Staci Berger, President and CEO of “The Network”, summarized the policy recommendations that emerged from a year of meetings with stakeholders across the state. These range from protecting homeowners from foreclosure and ending homelessness, to making city living healthier and more affordable. The HCDNNJ organized a daunting list of policy to-dos into 13 primary areas of reform, and then plans to distribute these ideas far and wide, to policymakers and through its own network of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other supporting organizations.
It is of course about more than just housing. It is about safety, workforce development, financial resources, transportation, the environment and so much more of what the HCDNNJ calls the “interconnectedness of problems - and solutions”. “When all these disparate dots are connect,” the report concludes, “when all the steps laid out here are taken, the result will be so much more than a roof over everyone’s heads.”