Laying the Foundation for Strong Neighborhoods in Trenton, New Jersey

A Community Progress Technical Assistance Report

Author(s): New Jersey Community Capital, Center for Community Progress, Isles, Inc., Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, Rutgers University-Newark

The housing market is not the only factor that determines whether or not a neighborhood is a vital, thriving community, but it is a major factor affecting neighborhood outcomes. The demand for housing in a neighborhood reflects the extent to which people choose to live in one particular place rather than other areas, given their means and their locational needs. As a result, it is important for anyone working to foster or preserve neighborhood vitality to understand how the market is working in their community, both as a general proposition, and with respect to particular indicators, such as price, foreclosures or vacancies. That information can help to promote strategic thinking about the neighborhood and its future, and suggest specific strategies and programs to address the neighborhood’s challenges.

Trenton is facing serious challenges in rebuilding its physical and economic fabric. It is suffering from severe economic distress, and has been losing ground compared to Mercer County and the state of New Jersey over the past decades. During more recent years, the city has seen dramatic increases in foreclosures, declines in house prices, and declining home ownership as more of the city’s properties are bought by investors. At the same time, it has valuable assets to support revitalization. These include its location in the heart of an economically vibrant region, its role as a transportation hub, its rich historic fabric, institutional assets such as its hospitals, Thomas Edison State College and the State Museum, and its role as the state capital and county seat. Trenton will have to capitalize on its assets in years to come in order to address its challenges and rebuild its vitality and the strength of its neighborhoods.

This report is the product of the ongoing collaborative effort by the City of Trenton, Isles, New Jersey Community Capital and the Center for Community Progress to build a property and neighborhood database of the city as a tool for future planning.

In this report, we look at conditions and trends in the City of Trenton and its neighborhoods, and explore the strategic options available to city government and other stakeholders to address the challenges the city is facing. The assessment focuses principally on what is known as ‘market-oriented’ data; in other words, measures that reflect the strength of demand for housing in the city and its neighborhoods, including direct measures of the housing market such as sales prices or vacancies, and measures that relate to the confidence of residents and the demand in an area, such as crime or tax delinquency.

Madison Gharghoury, Development Associate and Special Assistant to the President/CEO

Published: November 2015


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