NJ Town Revives Eminent Domain Abuse of 1950s

Christina Walsh
Huffington Post

…Nancy’s tight-knit community of row homes has crumbled around her at the hands of the Township. Since 2000, officials have been buying up and knocking down the homes under the threat of eminent domain, in a stark replication of 1950s-era urban renewal. There used to be more than 300 row homes in the Gardens; now, less than 100 remain. To intimidate homeowners into selling over the years–and especially around the holidays–the Township has strategically parked bulldozers around the community, making it more of a demolition zone than a neighborhood.

Many of Nancy’s neighbors are quite elderly. Most are African-American or Hispanic, and are typically first-time home buyers. Many have lived here since the 1970s and have become best friends. They take care of each other–especially the widows. The Gardens provided an opportunity for each of these families to put their roots into the ground, to buy an affordable piece of the American Dream, a home to call their very own. They are proud of their homes.

But Mount Holly’s government officials could not care less. They want to take the land and give it to Keating Urban Partners, a developer from Philadelphia that wants to build a fancy new development with expensive town homes. So the Township is using the force of government–eminent domain, which is supposed to be for genuinely public uses like roads and schools–to kick these people out of the homes they have worked and saved for their entire lives. Widows in their 80s and 90s who haven’t had a mortgage payment in decades will be forced from their comfortable, well-decorated row homes into tiny apartment rentals, likely outside of Mount Holly and most certainly far away from the next-door neighbors that have helped take care of them on a daily basis for years.

The Township won’t even offer replacement housing in the new development to residents of the current community. It couldn’t be clearer why: Mount Holly officials don’t want Nancy and her neighbors in the Gardens anymore. They don’t make enough money, so they are no longer welcome…

The article continues at The Huffington Post.

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