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news release

P.O. Box 004
Trenton, NJ
Contact: Jayne O'Connor
Tom Damm (DCA)

RELEASE: January 13, 2000

Office of the Governor

Governor Announces $6.3 Million
Revitalization Program in Camden

Neighborhood Borders Admiral Wilson Boulevard

Gov. Christie Whitman today announced a nearly $6.3 million housing and infrastructure improvement program in an East Camden neighborhood bordering the Admiral Wilson Boulevard.

The Governor said the funds would be used to acquire abandoned and failing properties, fix them up and sell them to low- and moderate-income families. Funds would also be used to provide street lighting to improve safety in the neighborhood.

The program, sponsored by the state departments of Community Affairs and Transportation, is designed to help stabilize the Marlton neighborhood, which has been plagued by crime and other negative influences of the nearby boulevard.

"As we move ahead with our Gateway Project to fix up the boulevard, we're building on our commitment to fix up the neighborhoods of Camden," said Gov. Whitman. "The boulevard may be one of the city's major arteries, but the neighborhoods are its heart and soul."

The Whitman Administration last year announced a major plan to revitalize the Admiral Wilson Boulevard.

"This effort complements nicely our plans to improve the boulevard and expand economic opportunities for the citizens of Camden," Gov. Whitman said.

The abandoned properties are scattered throughout the Marlton neighborhood. The targeted homes have been identified by residents in the area and by Saint Joseph's Carpenter's Society, a non-profit, faith-based agency that has redeveloped more than 200 formerly abandoned properties in the city.

The program calls for the rehabilitation of approximately 65 homes over a three-year period, according to Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jane M. Kenny. The first group of homes should be available for sale by late this summer. The renovated units will sell for between $45,000 and $55,000.

"Our urban strategy involves meeting needs identified by the community," said Commissioner Kenny. "We agree that housing improvements represent an essential step in stabilizing this neighborhood."

DCA is providing $1.5 million in subsidies through its Balanced Housing Program. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), within DCA, is also providing $1.5 million. The combined funds will be used to rehabilitate the homes and lower the sale price. DCA's New Jersey Redevelopment Authority is providing $136,000 from its New Jersey Urban Site Acquisition Program (NJ-USA) to help acquire the necessary properties. The HMFA is also offering $2.9 million in low-interest mortgage loans to qualifying families.

"As much as this is an investment in housing, it is an investment in people," said Deborah De Santis, HMFA executive director.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing $200,000 for lighting in the area, according to DOT Commissioner James Weinstein.

"This project will further the goal of creating an attractive corridor and neighborhood that will spur development, lead to new jobs and tax revenues and improve the quality of life for area residents," said Commissioner Weinstein.

An additional $10,000 will be provided by DCA to help prospective homeowners in the targeted neighborhood acquire the skills and actual tools needed to address common home maintenance problems. The funds will also be used to provide homeownership counseling. The program will be run by St. Joseph's Carpenter Society and would complement an existing Homeowner Academy funded, in part, by Campbell Soup.

The Marlton neighborhood rehabilitation is the latest in a series of improvements announced by DCA and DOT to help revitalize Camden.

Most recently, DOT announced that $619,000 from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) would be used to reconstruct 17th Street, from Admiral Wilson Boulevard to Federal Street, and five other streets throughout the city. The TTF continues to be a steady source of revenue for Camden transportation projects.

In recent months, DCA has announced several initiatives to improve the climate for investment in the city, including a Camden Business Resource Assistance Center, a new supermarket in North Camden and a multi-department program to clean up abandoned lots in the city.

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