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CAMDEN

AN EQUITY AGENDA ALEXANDRA SAN ROMAN | CLAUDIA ELZEY | ERIC VINCENT RILEY | GABRIELLA NELSON | MICHAEL SCHAIER | SEAN SCOTT


CONTENTS

PART I EXISTING CONDITIONS

THE TEAM

INTRODUCTION

5

RESIDENTS

8

GOVERNANCE

12

EDUCATION

20

ECONOMY

26

HOUSING

33

PUBLIC HEALTH

44

SDOC

50

PART II AGENDA From left: Michael Schaier, Gabriella Nelson, Claudia Elzey, Alexandra San Roman, Sean Scott, and Eric Riley. Master of City Planning Program, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, 2017.

PLACE

51

GOVERNANCE

57

EDUCATION

63

ECONOMY

71

HOUSING

76

PUBLIC HEALTH

84

PART III FOCAL PLAN LOTS OF OPPORTUNITY

91

APPENDICES A—1. PLAN MATRIX

97

A—2. WORKS CITED

101

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CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY Philadelphia 3mi

Baltimore

Camden

100mi

DC

138mi

T

he City of Camden lies along the Delaware River, just 3 miles east of Philadelphia. Historically, Camden served as a regional transit hub with ferry service to Philadelphia and railways extending into South Jersey. When the Benjamin Franklin Bridge was built across the Delaware in 1926, travel from one city to the other became a matter of minutes. In 1992, the Riverlink Ferry was created to revive ferry service to Camden as a summer leisure activity. Camden lies in the I-95 corridor, 91 miles south of New York City and 138 miles north of Washington, DC. From Camden, I-95 is accessed by way of I-676 to the north and I-76 to the south. Transit into the city includes the PATCO Speedline, which connects to Pennsylvania’s regional rail system (SEPTA); the New Jersey Transit Riverline, which provides access to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Service; and the Riverlink Ferry, connecting Penn’s Landing to the Camden Waterfront. Municipal bus service within Camden is provided by New Jersey Transit.

RIVERLINK FERRY & BEN FRANKLIN BRIDGE

With its distinctive neighborhoods, tight street grid, historic housing, and strong transportation system, Camden has all the bones of an invincible city.

Cooper's Poynt

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP

Cooper Grant Waterfront

PYNE POYNT PARK

Rosedale Pyne Point

Cramer Hill

Dudley

Marlton

Stockton

Lanning - CBD Gateway

Bergen Square

CHERRY HILL

Parkside

FEDERAL ST

Liberty Park Whitman Park

Waterfront South

Centerville

COLLINGSWOOD Morgan Village

Fairview

Del

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Delaw

Beideman

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Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, 2015

Philadelphia International Airport is a 20-minute drive from Camden and is accessible via light rail. Atlantic City regional airport is about 47 miles southeast of the city.

Camden is made up of 19 neighborhoods, which roughly correspond with census tracts. However, residents more often refer to larger geographies such as “the Waterfront,” referring to the part of Camden that defines the city’s skyline and has proven most attractive to development. North Camden includes neighborhoods north of the Ben Franklin Bridge and is very densely populated. It has an especially strong history of neighborhood planning. East Camden, which is made up of Marlton, Stockton, Dudley, and Rosedale, has a very distinct character, since it is separated from the rest of the city by railroad tracks on the one side and the Cooper River on the other. Indeed, it was incorporated into the city later than other areas and has always been heavily residential, in contrast to formerly industrial and mixed-use areas. South Camden faces some of the greatest challenges in terms of environmental health, since it is a longtime site for heavy industry such as the St. Lawrence Cement Plant, which produces dangerously high levels of manganese.

re R ive r

New York

PHILADELPHIA

GLOUCESTER CITY

1 Miles

FERRY AVE

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LEGACY OF A LOST CITY

WHY AN EQUITY PLAN?

IPartnership n its 2016 annual report, Coopers Ferry (a nonprofit organization

CAMDEN HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND Camden Jam, Connect the Lots, 2015

CAMDEN, THE CITY INVINCIBLE

Christopher Sadowski for Splash News, 2012

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that carries out much of the urban planning in Camden) coined the tagline “Camden Rising.” Indeed, after a period of population loss and economic decline, the city is entertaining proposals for tall new towers along the waterfront. Three state-of-the-art public-private Renaissance Schools have joined Camden’s struggling public schools. Educational and medical institutions like Cooper Hospital have begun investing aggressively in their immediate neighborhoods. New hope for tacklng the city’s chronic crime problem appeared in the form of a metropolitan police force to replace Camden’s underfunded division. Until now, Camden has been an equitable, if difficult, place to live. Incomes have been almost universally low, and residents share the challenges of a cash-strapped government, a lack of accessible and highpaying jobs, and burdensome housing costs. But with the influx of federal and state funding, new questions emerge as to who will benefit, and how much. With investment heavily concentrated on the waterfront, residents ask whether resources will reach their neighborhoods. If Renaissance Schools cannot accommodate all children, what will become of those left in the schools now more underresourced than ever? Is it wise that private institutions like Cooper Hospital, whose board members are powerful players in South Jersey politics, should have so much

power in shaping Camden’s future? Finally, what inequities may arise when a force whose members may not live in Camden begins policing its streets? Now is a critical moment in Camden’s story. There is an opportunity to make Camden’s revitalization an equitable one that benefits all residents. The city has strong advantages, including a legacy of community organizing for social justice and a network of faith and nonprofit leaders deeply committed to the people of Camden. By drawing on these strengths to grant the people of Camden a voice in their future, we can imagine a city that is as equitable in its growth as it has been in its challenges.

CAMDEN CARRIES AN UNFAIR SHARE OF REGIONAL BURDENS AND LACKS BASIC POWERS OF SELF-DETERMINATION. EQUITY IN CAMDEN MUST BEGIN BY REFORMING INSTITUTIONS AND MARKETS TO ENSURE STRICTLY DEFINED & COMPREHENSIVE ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITY. ONLY THEN CAN WE IMAGINE JUST OUTCOMES FOR ALL.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

“Chief among the reasons why Camden is a desirable and prosperous place of residence, may be mentioned the fact that its people govern it.”

W hen it made this proud statement in 1904, Camden’s Chamber of Commerce

could not have predicted how ironic it would become nearly a century later. Even then, the idea that Camden’s people governed themselves may have been somewhat idealized. Camden’s earliest residents were subject to the whims of the regional and global economy. The city reached its peak production during WWII when shipbuilding and canning were of vital importance to the war effort. As the post-war boom faded, businesses began to leave Camden for cheaper land where expansion would be easy and regulations few. Residents who had sufficient wealth soon followed them into the suburbs. Residents who stayed behind seemed powerless to halt the cycle of disinvestment. As a city of immigrants, Camden had long been divided into ethnic neighborhoods, each with a powerful religious institution and its own social structure. As some of these institutions lost their constituencies, social capital disintegrated. Disadvantaged groups saw their chance to gain greater control of housing and other resources from which they have long been excluded. A series of racial riots in the 1970s became another excuse for wealthier white residents to flee the city.

In 1998, as Camden teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, the state of New Jersey took over the city’s administration. Overnight, Camden could no longer make the claim made by the Chamber of Commerce a century earlier. Yet residents continued to display a resilience built on generations of inequity and near constant adversity. They have worked to improve their streets, schools, and community space. If Camden is to once again become a self-sufficient city, it must tap into the rich human capital of those who live and work in Camden. If the city fails to engage its 77,000 residents, the population will continue to shrink. It is imperative that Camden locate and release the latent energy, activism, and wisdom of those who call Camden their home. Now, renewed interest in the Invincible City is afoot. Only a few years ago, a search on the web might have returned results revealing only the crime and aging infrastructure from which Camden suffers. Today, stories of park reclamation, rehabilitated homes, youth organizations, and neighborhood planning efforts give Camdenites a guarded optimism; a sense that maybe the time is right, the world’s interest is up, and things are turning around.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

HEAVY-WEIGHT BOXER JOE WALCOTT AND HIS WIFE STROLL CAMDEN’S MAIN STREET Bettmann CORBIS, 1958

TWO POLICE OFFICERS ASSIST STEVEN BRAND DURING “A NIGHT OF RACIAL TROUBLES” Riot in Camden, Courtesy of Phil Cohen, 1969.

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A CITY OF OPPORTUNITY

Camden is home to just under 77,000

people in 25,000 households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population has stabilized after decades of steady shrinkage. It is relatively young, with slightly more than a third of Camden residents aged 18 years or younger, and about 30% of all residents 35 or younger. Most family households are somewhat larger than the U.S. average, with an average of 3 members. Nearly half (45%) of those are single-parent households, and most of these have children under the age of 18. This young population represents both an advantage and a challenge for the city. It promises a large future workforce and a great deal of energy. Yet it also means that the city must provide essential supports like education and childcare, and work hard to overcome the detachment that some youth feel from civic life.

PART 1 | RESIDENTS PAGE 8

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

The vast majority of residents self-identify as either African American (non-Hispanic) or Hispanic or Latino, which combined make up about 93% of the total population, while the White non-Hispanic and Asian residents account for a majority of the remaining 7% of the population. Racial and ethnic groups are clustered in different areas of the city. North and East Camden are predominately Hispanic or Latino while Parkside, Centreville, and other southern neighborhoods are predominately African American. Asian residents largely live in the

northern neighborhoods. Yet there are no hard lines, and each neighborhood has some level of diversity. There are striking disparities in population density across the city. Despite significant investment and development over recent years, the waterfront remains sparsely populated, while other neighborhoods are extremely dense. This invites questions as to whether the neighborhoods far from the Central Business District receive adequate attention and investment, given the number of people that live in them.

HIGH RATE OF POVERTY Camden suffers from a level of poverty that affects children throughout the city at rates much higher than the country and surrounding metropolitan statistical area (note that the MSA encompasses Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Camden). While about of third of adults suffer from poverty, almost 52% of Camden children are impoverished, which is more than triple the rate of children across the MSA and more than double the rate of poverty for children across the nation. This hampers the capacity of students to succeed in school and access the opportunities that could lift them out of poverty later in life.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

Population: 76,904

Af. American (non-Hispanic): 34,299 | 44.6%

Hispanic/Latino: 37,756 | 49.1%

Children:

24,577 | 34.8%

Households: 24,981

Single Parent Households: 45%

Less than High School:

32%

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MSA 9.4%

Camden $25,000

USA $53,900

MSA $62,500

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Camden

MINORS

PA-NJ-DE MSA

Source: U.S. Census, ACS 2015 5-year estimates

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ADULTS 18-64

USA

ELDERLY

POVERTY BY AGE Percent per Age Group

Camden’s poverty rate is reflected in relatively low incomes and very high rates of unemployment. Almost 20% of Camden residents are unemployed and actively seeking work, which is double the share of unemployed people in the region and the nation. Those who secure jobs earn much less than their counterparts in the region and the U.S., with Camden households earning an average yearly income of $25,000. This implies an urgent need for equitable access to local and regional job opportunities, as well as the skill to move into higher-paying positions within those opportunities. Economic development in Camden must tackle workforce development, promote fair hiring, and encourage entrepreneurship. Opportunity may lie in the rising rate of regional entrepreneurship (data from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation shows that the rate of entrepreneurship in the MSA has exploded since 2009). Dominican and Mexican immigrants settling in East Camden are revitalizing Federal Street as a small business corridor with more than 10 restaurants, five corner stores, three barbershops, two laundromats, clothing stores, a bakery, an ice cream parlor, and a nail salon. Such grassroots growth proves that Camden residents deserve to be at the center of discussions about economic revitalization in the city. A true renaissance will start and end with the people who live and work in Camden, whatever the barriers that have thus far constrained their progress.

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USA 8.3%

LANDSCAPE OF DIVERSITY

INCOME & LIVELIHOOD

awa

Camden 19.6%

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME

Del

UNEMPLOYMENT

African American (non-Hispanic) 43.6%

Hispanic Alone 49.1%

Asian (non-Hispanic) 2.9%

White (non-Hispanic) 4.4%

North and East Camden are predominately Hispanic or Latino, with the catholic St. Joseph pro-cathedral acting as a community anchor. Parkside, Centreville, and other southern neighborhoods are predominately African American. The waterfront is sparsely populated.

1 Miles

1 dot is the equivalent of 10 people

Source: U.S. Census, ACS 2015 5-year estimates

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GOVERNING CAMDEN

C ity governments bear the responsibility of providing a clean, safe, and prosperous

environment for their residents and visitors. How citizens engage and interact with government along with a government’s ability to effectively manage its many assets is crucial for the success of a city.

PART 2 | GOVERNANCE PAGE 12

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

In Camden, the city government has been operating in an environment of disinvestment for several decades. The city is often unable to provide the necessities and services that its citizens require, leading to a vicious cycle in which a lack of services exacerbates social ills. Adding to the problems of service provision are issues of local democratic control and corruption. Since the 1990’s, two Mayors have undergone investigation for scandals and misusing municipal funds. For too long the pressures of disinvestment and loss of city resource led elected officials to exploit positions of power and embezzle the city’s few resources. Coupled with decreasing government services, these scandals have caused many Camden residents to lose faith and trust in their government’s ability to positively impact their lives.

new regime in Camden that reflects the local needs of residents and is doing more target investment at local levels. Camden’s current administration led by Mayor Dana Redd has been in power for a little under a decade and has made serious changes to the government structure and the narrative around Camden’s elected officials. In this part of our exploration of Camden, we focus on the role that the local government has played in the provision of much-needed resources. We discuss the fundamental inequities in local control, a diverse tax base, and the level of demand for public services that disadvantage Camden compared with neighboring municipalities. We also look for opportunities to remedy these inequities and to achieve a more equitable distribution of resources as Camden enters a new chapter in its story. Understanding the challenges and strengths of Camden’s government is an essential, since any equity plan will rely heavily on that government for its support and implementation.

This lack of trust may have resulted in less engagement with formal government processes, but residents have filled the gap of government in small and large ways. This community presence has led to a

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

CAMDEN CITY HALL

Army.Arch via Flickr, 2015

LACK OF FUNDS FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS

Camden laid off off hundreds of firefighters and police officers in 2011 and 2012. Tony Pugh, Philadelphia Inquirer.

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GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE

53%

32%

2000 40%

20%

2009 60%

33%

2016 City of Camden Turnout PAGE 14

Camden County Turnout

Camden’s current City Charter establishes the city as having a mayor-council system of government. One Mayor is elected at large every four years and is responsible for setting the policy agenda for the city, as well as appointing the heads of those municipal departments tasked with the day-to-day activities of the city. Under the Mayor is a City Council with seven members. In 1994, the city established four councilmanic districts to better represent the spatial concerns unique to different parts of the city. In this system, one member is elected from each of the four wards and three members are elected at large. The ability of residents to vote for district representatives allows for a more equitable representation of the different neighborhoods in the city and lowers the barrier of entry for regular residents to run for office. However, the current makeup of Camden’s government does contribute to equity concerns having to do with issues of turnover and tenure. Every member of Camden’s City Council holds a post-secondary degree and many have served in other levels of government at the state and regional level. The average time on council is 12 years, and the longest tenure of a council member is 20 years. With such low turnover and such long terms in city government, residents have

expressed concern with a lack of new faces and new ideas that better reflect Camden’s changing demographics and needs.

CIVIC PARTICIPATION One factor contributing to the lack of turnover on City Council is the low voter turnout rates. Camden County Board of Elections and CamConnect keep accurate records of voter participation. Their records show that turnout in the City of Camden has lagged behind turnout in Camden County for the past three key election years. In each of the elections, which span close to two decades, voter turnout in the City of Camden never surpassed 35%, while the county reached a high of 60%. In 2015, the population of residents eligible to vote was roughly 68% of Camden’s overall population. Despite such a large voting base, there are countless factors which impact Camden’s resident’s ability to vote and sway the direction of their government. One contributor to the low turnout rates is Camden’s large Latino and Black population, a population that is statistically more likely to have been convicted of a crime. Other factors are the number of residents working multiple jobs or raising children, which makes it harder to get to the polls. Low turnout makes for less accountable government and causes residents to feel still more disaffected with civic life.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

TIMELINE OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE

1998

Governor Whitman appoints Financial Control Board

In 2000, Mayor Milton Milan - the first Hispanic mayor of Camden - was indicted on 19 charges of corruption, some of which involved conspiring with other public officials. The mayor before him, Arnold B. Webster, was found guilty of wire fraud. In 1981, Mayor Angelo Erichetti was imprisoned for corruption, as well. This string of indictments has created serious barriers to the civic trust necessary in democracy. But since those indictments, Camden residents may have become even more powerless, thanks to the state’s direct intervention in running municipal affairs. The timeline at right highlights major shifts in government control. One very important date is 2002, when the State officially seized control of Camden’s government and simultaneously injected $175 million into the city via the Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act. According to a report by the Pew Charitable Trust, most of those millions went to major institutions and favorites in the Democratic party, rather than to fix roads, schools, or the police department. Finally, in 2009, Mayor Redd was elected to lead the first city administration with full local power since the 1990s. She has breathed new hope of honest, democratic leadership into Camden, bringing ethics reforms and transparent financial decision-making. In March 2017, she announced that she would not seek a third term.

2002

Full State Takeover via MRERA Act

+$175 million

2007

NJ Senate Extends Takeover

2009

Mayor Dana Redd elected, First Mayor with full local power

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

2010

Camden Freedom Act is Signed

2013

Camden Police Dissolved, State takes over schools; New County Police Force

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RELIANCE ON STATE AID

Camden relies heavily on state aid and

other external revenue. When the city entered state receivership, it received more Special Municipal Aid from New Jersey than any other city. That aid appeared to have made Camden dependent on state funding, since it expanded rather than shrank the government - leaving the city with a bigger deficit than it had to begin with. This crisis is what prompted Camden to lay off over 400 people, including police officers.

CORRINE BRADLEY-POWERS, CORRINE’S PLACE Bradley-Powers runs a soul food restaurant known for hiring Camdenites who have been incarcerated. She asked for some of the 2002 state aid to be set aside for a culinary school, but was turned down. Photo by Edible Jersey.

A breakdown of major revenue sources in the City’s 2016 budget shows that 75% came directly from New Jersey. In fiscal year 2014, 63% of anticipated revenue was

state aid, and the number was 64% in 2015. Even as Camden’s government works to shrink overall expenditures, the problem of Camden’s very small tax base remains. Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) charged to nonprofits like Rutgers University that enjoy tax-exempt status contribute 8-9% of the typical budget, but the corporations that have been the beneficiaries of millions in state tax credits contribute far less than their fair share. Camden’s budget shortfall is such that the state has taken over its administrative function. As long as Camden officials remain beholden to state coffers, the needs of local tax payers are secondary to the agenda of the state government.

LOCAL REVENUE

7%

18 %

TAXES FOR MUNICIPAL BUDGET

FY2016 75% PAGE 16

STATE AID CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

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CITY OF CAMDEN COUNCIL WARDS Mayor

Ward 4

City Council

Ward 3 Ward 1 Ward 2

3 At Large Members 4 Ward Members Camden is divided into four wards. They reflect natural boundaries and spatial concentrations in the city and have been divised to give each major section of the city a voice in city government. The structure of Camden’s major elected officials is shown above. Average time served on Council is 12 years, while the longest tenure is 20 years. Councilors, together with the mayor, set the political tone and policy agenda of the city.

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POLICING CAMDEN

The Camden Police Department was disbanded in 2012. It had failed to dampen

CAMDEN RESIDENTS PROTEST POLICE LAYOFFS Residents gathered in 2012 to protest the plan to disband the city police and replace them with a countywide force. Photo by Joe Warner for the South Jersey Times.

PRESIDENT OBAMA MEETS CAMDEN POLICE In 2015, President Obama met with the new Camden Metro police force. White House Photo Archive.

PAGE 18

the soaring crime rate, and residents complained that police officers often failed to respond to calls for help. Indeed, Chief of Police J. Scott Thomson admitted that there was simply not enough manpower to respond to all 911 emergencies. The department suffered a major blow when 88 residents brought suit against it in 2010, alleging systemic corruption. In one case, police officers planted drugs on a resident. In other cases, the officers made false arrests or stole money from suspects. The department eventually settled the case, paying $3.5 million in damages. The 2012 decision to lay off all of the city’s 273 officers was less a response to these events than a capitulation to the city’s crippling budget deficit. Following the layoffs, Camden’s homicide rate skyrocketed from 47 murders in 2011 to 67 in 2012. In 2013, a new countywide police force was formed with a division dedicated to the city. Once again headed by Chief Thomson, it rehired most of the officers that the city had let go, along with almost 100 additional officers. The new force paid its employees lower salaries, with fewer benefits, and spread the cost over a greater number of taxpayers. In many ways, the change seems a success. In 2017, the New York Times published a glowing article describing the sensitive new tactics Camden County police were trained to use in order to avoid reinforcing residents’ already difficult lot (e.g., issuing

traffic warnings rather than tickets wherever possible). Their training also focuses on strategies to defuse explosive situations without resorting to gunfire. Finally, if an officer is responding to a shooting, she is trained to take any wounded parties to the hospital in her cruiser, rather than waiting for an ambulance. The CCPD is not without problems, however. The number of homicides dropped precipitously after the county police department was first established; by 2015, it had fallen to 34 murders. But 2016 saw an uptick to 45 murders, indicating that perhaps Camden’s chronic crime problem was not yet resolved. Another issue is very high turnover in the force. Over 100 recruits trained by the new department quickly resigned - 50 of them to accept jobs in other jurisdictions, mostly on the Jersey Shore. Why are resignations so frequent? Officers complain about low morale and long hours on top of long commutes to get to their daily beat. But perhaps the greatest concern is people who have never lived in Camden - and may have limited understanding of its people and its challenges - are now policing its streets. This may complicate the process of building trust between residents and their government, and raises the specter of racial profiling.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

EQUITABLE GOVERNANCE

C amden’s government structure, lack of democratic control, reliance on state

aid, and general inability to generate revenue or provide services, leads to an inequitable government. With low resources and a citizenry with little faith in the government’s capacity to create change, the people and institutions governing Camden must begin to address these inequities headon. Mayor Dana Redd represents a change in Camden’s political culture that has taken steps to address some of the inequities described here. While the dissolution of local administration was a blow to local democracy, it has been successful in placing more police in communities and bringing down crime rates. Camden’s government must continue to work at finding new solutions to address basic service needs of the city. In a 2009, a survey of Camden resident services, and administration was the second major area of concern only behind public safety. With recent efforts to mobilize tax credits and other economic development policy to attract firms to the waterfront, government institutions should refocus any additional money towards improving basic infrastructure, and ensuring services are running efficiently and equitably to all neighborhoods. Camden residents still only generate a small fraction of the revenue needed to operate, meaning that state funds

will remain important. By focusing attention on basic services, rather than attracting new talent or development Camden can foster a more equitable environment for the entire city.

INCLUSIVE GOVERNANCE Given the current circumstances of Camden’s government and the recent growth it has seen during its inequities there is an opportunity to make government more inclusive. Camden’s government needs to expand its views and methods for solving issues of service provision. Opportunities exist in collaboration with local organizations, by coordinating services with gaps in government service. This could be part of a larger push to make government more localized, creating a formal system for neighborhood representatives or block captains responsible for building community capital and networks. These opportunities will be expanded upon in the next portion of the plan but they signal a potential for substantive change in Camden’s current governance.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

WM TRUCKS COLLECT TRASH, A BASIC SERVICE Photo by Waste Management, Camden.

PATCO LINE: BASIC PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE IN NEED OF SERVICE Photo courtesy of RAM Investment Group.

PAGE 19


AT A GLANCE

The Camden City School District (CCSD) includes 20 elementary schools, one middle

school, three high schools, and two magnet high schools. In addition, there are three public charter renaissance schools and a large number of private charter academies. The public schools serve a total of 14,157 students as of the 2015-16 school year. Of these, 1,156 are officially English Language Learners. With about 980 teachers, the student-to-teacher ration was low: 14.4. In 2013, Governor Chris Christie directed the state to take over the CCSD. Under a state-run system, the local school board has an advisory role; the state appointed Paymon Rouhanifard as the new school superintendent. At the time, three of Camden’s schools were the lowestperforming in the state, and 90% fell in the bottom 5% of New Jersey schools. Less than 20% of fourth- graders were proficient in language arts literacy, and 28% of 11thgraders are proficient in math.

PART 3 | EDUCATION PAGE 20

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

Camden public schools have struggled to provide children with adequate education for a long time. However, there have been many improvements over the last few years. Students, parents, staff, and the Central Office administration have been steadfast in their efforts to achieve the success of Camden students citywide. With about 25% of residents under the age of 18, the city has great potential that can only be tapped through education.

UNIQUE CHALLENGES The majority of current research shows that poverty influences academic difficulty and is also tied to disability rates. The poverty rate among African Americans and Hispanics is three times as high as that among whites. Nearly 95% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Research shows that disability rates are rising among children living in poverty, while rates for other children have remained steady.

SUPERINTENDENT PAYMON ROUHANIFARD Peter Vaughn, Education Post

A staggering 52% of Camden’s youngest residents (under the age of 18) are living in poverty. Only 5,027 of the 10,304 youths (ages 16-24) are in the labor force. Youth unemployment rates are 21.3% (ages 1619) and 15.9% (ages 20-24). These statistics reflect a subset of youth in need of special services: “disconnected youth.” Teen years and young adulthood are times of great excitement, new challenges, and opportunities for growth. Strong and lasting connections to school, work, and caring adults are key elements of success during this critical period. When these connections are weakened or lost – which is an all too common occurrence for young people in poverty stricken neighborhoods – the road to adulthood can be fraught with disappointment instead of pride. If Camden is to achieve an equitable future, it must invest in equity for the next generation now.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

SUPERINTENDENT PAYMON ROUHANIFARD AND GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE Andrew Burton/Getty Images North America

PAGE 21


T

Much more money is spent per Camden City pupil than the average New Jersey or American student receives. Yet as educational performance in many public schools continues be lackluster, questions arise as to how equitably and effectively those funds have been applied. Source: Education Week: U.S. Census Bureau

PAGE 22

National Average

$11,841

NJ State Average

$19,652

City of Camden

$30,181

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

28%

ls

SPENDING PER PUPIL

Since the renaissance school movement began, graduation rates have risen from 49% to 70%, the dropout rate has decreased from 20% to 12%, and more children are enrolled in pre-K. Even as renaissance schools like the KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy have shown promise for its students as they make great progress on many measures of academic success, the vast majority of Camden students remain in public district schools and CCSD continues to be the lowest performing school district in the state. The growth in renaissance schools mixed with the current conditions of public schools suggests that it may be wiser to invest in improving existing education systems

Ch

oo Sch

Credit: Katie Park, Alyson Hurt, Tyler Fisher, Lisa Charlotte Rost/NPR

Schools ce n a ss ai 14%

KIPP COOPER NORCROSS ACADEMY Photo by NK Architects

r te ar

he Urban Hope Act was enacted and signed into law in 2012, opening the way for hybrid charters known as renaissance schools to open in three cities: Camden, Trenton, and Newark. Renaissance schools operate independent of the district and act as a hybrid of traditional public and charter schools. Since then, only Camden decided to move on this option and now has three networks.The fairly recent emergence of renaissance schools has seemingly created a savior for the district. In 2014 enrollment in public schools had declined by nearly 1,000 students with the opening of charter schools. Today, 42% of students are either in charter or renaissance schools.

than to start from scratch. Privatization may improve outcomes for some students, but hurts the most disadvantaged pupils. The New Jersey Education Association, a teachers’ union, has strenuously opposed privatization, calling it a “corporate takeover” of the district. Other public school advocates have been equally vocal in claiming that it is drawing funds and resources from district schools. Traditional charter schools in New Jersey are funded at up to 90% of the per pupil rate, but are unassisted in meeting facilities costs. renaissance schools, according to Urban Hope Act regulations, receive 95% of per-pupil costs and are also eligible for building incentives.

Re n

TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS

CAMDEN’S J.G. WHITTIER SCHOOL

By David Maialetter, Philly.com staff photographer

58% District Public Schools

PAGE 23


PUBLIC SCHOOLS

I

n the 2015-2016 academic year, there were no district family schools (K-8) that received an “on track” rating for academic performance by the district. In the same year, only one high school was rated “on track.”

KINDERGARTEN CLASS, WILSON ELEMENTARY Thom Carroll for the Philly Voice, 2015.

It is important to note that academic proficiency data is skewed because of the option for students to opt-out of the state standardized tests. However, academic performance details for family school in the last academic year show that 7% of student met math proficiency. English Language Arts proficiency is not available early 2017. High School performance details for 2016 show an 11% English Language Arts proficiency, a 3% Mathematics proficiency, and a 70% graduation rate, a positive 6% change from the previous year.

Graduation rates can be an indicator of progress for schools. But for Camden, graduation thresholds are extremely low. Nearly half of Camden graduates, are graduating on appeal. Once a student fails the state exam, HSPA, necessary for graduation, they can take an alternative exam. If they fail the alternative exam multiple times, they can appeal their graduation by submitting samples of their work. A single graded algebra problem would suffice. *Ratings based on PARCC English and Math test resuls, compared to similar public schools in NJ.

Number of Schools

CAMDEN SCHOOL PERFORMANCE Participating Public, Charter, and Renaissance Schools

15

KEEPING KIDS AT SCHOOL

Tawanda Jones (center) founded a dance team for Bonsall Elementary School girls in Camden to give them a strong incentive to attend school everyday. CNN 2013.

5 UnderNeeds Performing Improvement

PAGE 24

7

Making Progress

8

On Track

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

‘E’ IS FOR EQUITY

Iextraordinary n the last few years there has been an amount of money invested in Camden City schools. Camden spends most per student, over $30,000, than any other district in the state while continuing to score at some of the lowest percentiles. In 2015, Camden was designated a Promise Zone by the Obama Administration. The initiative establishes a partnership between the federal government and local leaders of Promise Zone communities, in which the two parties work together to increase the value of life for Camdenites, including the improvement of educational opportunities.

In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced an award of $33 million to build Promise Neighborhood projects in six cities around the country, including Camden. The almost $6 million grant was promised as just the first part of a five-year, $30 million commitment from the Department of Education. The rest of the funding, however, must still get congressional approval down the road. In an age of uncertainty with regard to federal priorities on education, a spirit of caution is warranted.

neither the time nor the ability to help their children with homework. The lack of job opportunities also means that students are less motivated to succeed. Public input and buy-in is crucial to set education priorities and better allocate funds to address very complex, interconnected issues. Camden’s education system is thus a complex mixture of opportunities and challenges. No silver bullet can resolve them all. A great school is the product of exemplary teaching and learning, well-prepared students, a safe and supportive school environment, an accountable Central Office and much more. Having the skills and knowledge to enter and succeed in a post-secondary institution is now the standard to which young people are held, and where the opportunities for economic growth lie in the future.

In Camden, educational outcomes are shaped by far more than school quality. Students’ learning is hindered by chronic ailments stemming from environmental hazards, poor nutrition, and lead poisoning. High poverty means that children’s parents may have

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

CAMDEN HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2015 Chris Adams for NJ.com

CAMDEN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES Courier-Post file

PAGE 25


OVERVIEW

T

he City of Camden, New Jersey has gained a reputation over the years as a place of extreme poverty, crime, and all things negative. However, peeling back the layers of this loaded language reveal a much more nuanced narrative. As the following chapter will show, Camden was once a thriving metropolis, manufacturing everything from ballpoint pens to battleships. However, deindustrialization and suburbanization in the middle of the 20th century pulled the rug out from under this dynamic city, and with population and economic decline came the rise in unemployment, poverty, and crime.

PART 4 | ECONOMY PAGE 26

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

Today, Camden’s households are significantly worse-off economically as compared to the average metro-area household. While the median household income in the metro area is $62,500, Camden’s is barely $25,000. Relatedly, Camden residents are living below the poverty line at rates far exceeding metro-area levels. The poverty rate among all residents is nearly 40 percent, while the metro area is just above 13 percent. Camden residents have experienced unemployment rates much higher than those of the metro region or wider United States. Beginning in 1990, Camden had an unemployment rate of 17 percent, compared to just 5 percent for the nation and metro

area. This rate dropped throughout the economic prosperity of the 1990s, rose again in the early 2000s, and reached a recent high of nearly 20 percent during the most recent economic recession. Unemployment has been declining since 2012, and has recently dipped below 10 percent. The country and metro area experienced similar trends over this time period, yet without the same level of extreme changes over each period.

CAMDEN’S ECONOMIC HISTORY

FINAL INSPECTION FOR AN RCA VICTOR RADIO Works Progress Administration, 1938

Camden was known as one of the major manufacturing and industrial hubs along the East Coast throughout the early 20th Century to mid-1950’s. Early industrial powerhouses that called Camden home included Campbell’s Soup, RCA Electronics, and New York Shipbuilding Company. By the 1950s, Camden had 43,000 manufacturing jobs. But just as with so many industrial centers, these companies soon fled overseas where the cost of labor was cheaper. The Campbell’s Soup factory closed in 1990, eliminating 950 jobs and leaving behind the corporate headquarters employing mostly suburbanites. One-third of the factory jobs were held by Camden residents versus just three percent of office jobs in the

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

CAMPBELL’S SOUP BY ANDY WARHOL Courtesy of Mobile Media Applications, 1962

PAGE 27


headquarters. RCA, known for popularizing radio in the 1920s and helping to develop television in the 1930s, was bought by General Electric in 1986 and morphed into defense contractor L-3 Communications. New York Shipbuilding closed two decades after World War II, after 68 years in business. The Woolworth store in East Camden, a vital retail store and employment center, closed in 1992. Today, after so many firms have exited, only 2,000 manufacturing jobs remain in Camden. A PROUD HISTORY IN MANUFACTURING Bettmann CORBIS

The exit of these and other prominent employers further accelerated Camden’s decline into notoriety as one of America’s poorest and most dangerous cities. With little political power and desperate for economic stimulus in any form, in 1987 the City offered its vastly vacant waterfront to a 32-acre wastewater treatment plan, which today processes 58 million gallons of sewage each day for Camden County. Four years later, a $108 million trash-to-steam incinerator also opened along the waterfront.

JOBS IN CAMDEN INDUSTRY As of 2014, Camden had 850 firms spread across a variety of industries. The majority of firms were in higher education or healthcare, the “Eds and Meds” category. These firms employed over half of the 28,700 total jobs in Camden. These jobs are across several different occupations, showing a functionally-diverse workforce. Nearly one in three jobs are in service occupations.

ALL OTHER 17%

RETA

IL 3%

SUPPORT SVCS 6% NEW HQ FOR HOLTEC INTERNATIONAL Holtec is a manufacturer of nuclear reactors; it is building $320 million facilities on Waterfront South in Camden. Joseph F. Moreno for the Courier Post, 2017

HOSPITALITY 3%

EDS & MEDS 53%

G MF 6%

% JOBS BY INDUSTRY

GOVERNMENT 12%

WORKFORCE EDUCATION There is a mismatch between the education attainment necessary to compete for employment in Camden and the level of preparedness of working residents. Nearly two-thirds of all employed Camdenites either have not completed any schooling or have at most a high school degree. Jobs in Camden tend to employ individuals with at least some college education, and more likely a bachelor’s degree or higher. Recognizing the vital importance of workforce development, Camden residents Shawn Harris and Raafat Hanna launched a culinary program for youths in juvenile detention. The program has had more than a dozen sessions and sent its graduates to culinary college and even to management positions in the restaurant business. Respond, Inc. is another community-based organization that was founded by residents in 1967 to promote “economic self-sufficiency and general welfare” in Camden. It offers job training programs in the culinary arts, landscape maintenance, and automotive repair. The job programs serve 200 adults annually, including veterans, the homeless, and ex-offenders. Respond, Inc. boasts a 95% job placement rate for participants.

UNKNOWN 15%

HIGH SCHOOL NOT COMPLETE 9%

JOBS IN CAMDEN

BACHELORS DEGREE PLUS 7%

HIGH SCHOOL 18%

SOME COLLEGE OR ASSOCIATE DEGREE 28%

UNKNOWN 28%

HIGH SCHOOL NOT COMPLETE 15%

CAMDEN RESIDENTS

BACHELORS DEGREE PLUS 15%

RENDERING OF AMERICAN WATERWORKS Robert A.M. Stern Architects, 2016. Courtesy of Courier Post Online.

HIGH SCHOOL 20%

SOME COLLEGE OR ASSOCIATE DEGREE 22%

Source: U. S. Census Bureau (2014)

CAMDEN COUNTY COLLEGE A student learns in a mobile manufacturing classroom. New Jersey Community College Consortium, 2014.

Source: U. S. Census Bureau (2014)

PAGE 28

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

PAGE 29


WHERE DO CAMDEN RESIDENTS GO TO WORK?

Bergen 1.8%

Out of the total resident workforce, nearly half stay in Camden County and an additional 14 percent travel to Burlington County. Considering its relative distance, only 7 percent of residents travel to Philadelphia for work.

Essex 1.7%

Out of those who stay in Camden County, most travel to either the Downtown/ Waterfront, Pennsauken and Merchantville, or Cherry Hill.

TOP COUNTIES

TOP DESTINATIONS Cooper’s East Point Camden 3.0% 2.6%

Downtown 8.4%

South Camden 2.7%

PAGE 30

Atlantic 1.3%

Philadelphia 7.0%

Marlton 2.6% All Other Counties 14.1%

was an underutilized asset that could be redeveloped for greater economic gain. By the late 1980s, all old infrastructure from a decaying rail yard and ferry system were cleared, and the remaining heavy industrial facilities grew obsolete and unused. It was time to discover what’s next for Camden’s waterfront.

This phase sought to attract visitors to magnet points across the waterfront. Key projects in this phase include the New Jersey State Aquarium (built in 1992), the Susquehanna Bank Center, a 25,000-seat outdoor/indoor concert venue operated by Live Nation (opened in 1995), the Camden

New Jersey

Camden 45.5%

Icorporate n the early 1980s Camden’s city and leaders realized that the waterfront

Burlington 14.1%

Pennsylvania

Montgomery 1.4%

Mount Laurel 2.9%

PAST ATTEMPTS AT REVITALIZATION

In 1984 the City of Camden, Campbell’s Soup Company, and RCA jointly commissioned a planning study to understand the highest and best use of the approximately 120 acres of waterfront land south of the Ben Franklin Bridge to the South Jersey Port. The study concluded that “the waterfront could support a carefully planned, mixed-use development of family entertainment, recreational, and cultural attractions.” This vision began Phase One of Camden’s economic redevelopment.

Mercer 3.4%

Pennsauken & Merchantville 8.0%

Cherry Hill 8.7%

Middlesex 2.6%

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Gloucester 7.0%

Children’s Garden (built in 1999), and Campbell’s Field, a minor-league baseball stadium (built in 2001).

NEW JERSEY STATE AQUARIUM, 1992

In July 2002 when Camden was put under state control, approximately 25 percent of the allotted $175 million in state redevelopment funds went towards the Downtown Revitalization and Recovery Fund, which was meant to continue renovations along the waterfront. The Aquarium expanded, privatized, and rebranded as the Adventure Aquarium in 2005 after a $57 million expansion (threequarters of which were public funds). The Aquarium took the public funds in exchange for a promise to provide job training (not necessarily jobs) for city residents and an annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to the city of $1.5 million. Before privatization, nearly half of the Aquarium’s employees lived in Camden; post-expansion and without realization of the job training, only 25 percent of present-day Aquarium employees are Camden residents. Fewer than five percent of the $175 million was spent on crime, city schools, job training, and municipal services.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER, 1995

CAMDEN CHILDREN’S GARDEN, 1999

CAMPBELL’S FIELD, 2001

PAGE 31


are Delaw

River

1. HOLTEC INTERNATIONAL

GROW NEW JERSEY

2. EMR EASTERN

Most recently, Grow NJ tax credits have granted $1billion in tax credits for businesses to build new offices in Camden. Camden has received over half of the total amount of money granted state wide.

Nuclear Reactor Manufacturer $260m in GrowNJ Tax Credits Creating 235 new permanent jobs Moving from Marlton, NJ (12 miles)

Metals Recycling $253m in GrowNJ Tax Credits Beideman Creating 285 new permanent jobs Building HQ Moving from Bellmawr, NJ (7 miles)

Cooper's Poynt

Rosedale

3. AMERICAN WATERWORKS

Cramer Hill Pyne Point

Public Water Utility $164m in GrowNJ Tax Credits Creating 100 new permanent jobs Building corporate HQ Stockton Consolidating from nearby municipalities (~12 miles)

Dudley

3

5

Cooper Grant Waterfront

4

Marlton

Lanning - CBD

6

4. SUBARU OF AMERICA

Gateway

Bergen Square

2

Parkside

5. LOCKHEED MARTIN

Liberty Park Whitman Park Waterfront South

1

Automobile Manufacturer $118m in GrowNJ Tax Credits Creating 100 new permanent jobs Building office & training facilities Moving from Cherry Hill, NJ (7 miles)

Centerville

Morgan Village

6. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Two companies have said they will create the bare minimum number of 100 net-new jobs (both American Water Works and Subaru of America), while two will create zero new jobs with the move. In these instances, the tax credits were used as a bargaining chip – $107 million in tax credits allowed Lockheed Martin to retain a portion of its New Jersey Staff who, if not for tax credits, would have been laid off due to increased competition in the defense industry. The question remains if Camden residents have the skills to fill the new jobs promised at these firms.

Professional Sports Team $84m in GrowNJ Tax Credits Creating 0 new permanent jobs Building practice & office facilities Moving from Philadelphia (8 miles)

PART 5 | HOUSING

eR

ive

r

Fairview

Defense Contractor $107m in GrowNJ Tax Credits Creating 0 new permanent jobs Building R&D laboratory facilities Moving from Moorestown, NJ (12 miles)

Shown at left are the top six beneficiaries of the grow NJ tax credits. All of these companies are building new headquarters, relocating from their current facilities as near as across the river in Philadelphia and as far as 12 miles away within Camden County.

Del a

war

PAGE 32

PAGE 32

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

PAGE 33


58k jobs 104k whites 11k blacks

59k jobs 89k whites 27k blacks

59k jobs 98k whites 17k blacks

28k jobs 26k whites 45k blacks 16k Hispanic

42k jobs 61k whites 40k blacks 7k Hispanic

27k jobs 17k whites 49k blacks 27k Hispanic

Source: U.S. Decennial Census

PAGE 34

In the 1960s and 70s, industry began to slow or send branches into the suburbs. African Americans, who had never been hired in heavy industry at the rate other Camden residents were, continued to move into the city even as industrial jobs disappeared. The pent-up housing demand of black families allowed whites to rent out or sell their homes at good prices before moving to the suburbs. In a panic, city officials tried to make Camden a regional retail center using urban renewal schemes to “decongest” the city. One target was Kaighn’s Point, which had become the densest black neighborhood in the city. Black-owned homes and businesses were razed, while botched relocation plans stoked growing anger in the black community. In 1954, they won a

A LEGACY OF ACTIVISM As these transformations rocked the city, Camdenites were far from passive. Religious and political activists on both sides of the racial divide demanded housing equality and fought to improve conditions for the disadvantaged. One tactic involved squatting. People unable or unwilling to pay rising property taxes against fallng home values were leaving hundreds of houses vacant. Led by former city planner Tom Knoche, the Concerned Citizens of North Camden formed in 1978 and began using CDBG funds to secure abandoned properties. To prevent further deterioration, they encouraged low-income African American and Hispanic residents to move into the structures. Next, they demanded that Mayor Randy Primas grant title to the squatters. The mayor resisted at first but eventually granted 142 titles to families for the best-quality vacant houses in North Camden.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

102

105

immigrant families. Most of today’s housing is still single-family attached row homes dating to the 1930s and ‘40s. More than 60% of units are rented, compared with less than a third in the county overall. Camden has developed a large stock of public housing—1,829 units as of 2010. In some neighborhoods such as Liberty Park, more than half of available housing is publicly subsidized. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recorded 3,755 public housing residents in 2015; many are seniors, disabled, or very low-income. There are also 3,286 units of housing developed using Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in Camden, according to HUD 2013 numbers. This is nearly half (48%) of the LIHTC-financed housing throughout Camden County’s thirty-seven boroughs. Indeed, the distribution of purpose-built affordable housing is highly unequal in Camden County in general. While the wellto-do boroughs of Haddonfield and Voorhees Township have built only one or two LIHTC projects each, struggling Lindenwold has 776 LIHTC housing units.

RO SE

CRAMER H ILL

I125,000 n its heyday, Camden was home to about people, mostly working-class

109

323

26 51 52

63

77

D

77

64

55

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

88 213

As the city lost population in the 1970s, many once-attractive row homes suffered deterioration and neglect. Absentee landlords now living in the suburbs, plus a general decline in financial resources, meant that much-needed investments in housing were deferred. In North Camden, the Census Bureau estimates that up to a fifth of homes lack complete plumbing facilities. Many more homes are not properly weatherized, leading to high heating costs.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

27

MAR L T ON

1970 1980 1990

1940 1950 1960

finally sparked riots in 1971—yet another reason for whites to flee the city. By 1980, Camden was struggling under the weight of a budget deficit just as federal funds for urban poverty alleviation were drying up.

60

E AL

DEMONSTRATORS, NORTHGATE APT. COMPLEX Philadelphia Bulletin, April 17, 1978. Temple University Libraries, Urban Archives, Philadelphia.

Italians, Poles, and Jews claimed their own enclaves—usually organized around their synagogue or parish and convenient to the thriving shipyards and factories. African Americans, as well as the Puerto Ricans who began arriving in large numbers in the 1950s, were strictly segregated to neighborhoods such as South Camden and Centerville. Rutgers professor and historian Howard Gillette writes that at mid-century, the housing market in Camden was very tight. African Americans especially faced a severe housing shortage.

court case demanding eligible black families be admitted to the desirable new public housing complexes in East Camden, which had been reserved for working-class whites. Mistreatment at the hands of the police and exclusion from democratic decision-making

102

K

F rom its inception, Camden has been a city of neighborhoods. Ethnic groups including

CAMDEN’S HOUSING STOCK TODAY

LIBERTY P AR

A CITY OF (UNEQUAL) NEIGHBORHOODS

260

HERE YOU CAN SEE THE NUMBER OF PUBLIC HOUSING PROJECTS, AND THE NUMBER OF UNITS IN EACH, BY NEIGHBORHOOD. FOR EXAMPLE, LIBERTY PARK HAS 6 PUBLIC HOUSING COMMUNITIES; THE LARGEST HAS 213 UNITS. Data Source: U.S. Department of Housing. “A Picture of Subsidized Households”, 2015, via PolicyMap

The City of Camden launched a home improvement program to address the issue, but because it operated on a reimbursement basis, many households could not afford to participate. Coopers Ferry Partnership took over the program and won a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009. Rebranded Camden POWER, the program now insulated homes and replaced windows at virtually no cost to participants. It faltered at first because each project was too small to make it worth local contractors’ while. But Coopers Ferry learned to bundle projects and has weatherized a total of 460 homes.

PAGE 35


HOMES WITHOUT PEOPLE

SUBSIDIZED HOUSING Public housing for low-income seniors in central Camden. Photo by author.

A great number of houses have simply been left vacant. A 2015 HUD analysis of the Camden County submarket found a net out-migration rate of about 2,625 people every year since 2010. This rate is higher even than during the housing crisis. Population loss is taking its toll on the housing stock. An April 2014 count found that 3,417 buildings (comprising 14.9% of Camden’s 22,906 total structures) were simply abandoned. Abandoned housing has permeated every city neighborhood, with the largest concentrations in Whitman’s Park, Stockton, and Bergen Square. Though the City made some efforts to secure the empty structures, which depress property values and shelter Camden’s booming drug and prostitution trades, problems have persisted. In 2014, a woman squatting in an abandoned house in Cooper Plaza left a candle burning without supervision. In the ensuing fire, three houses were destroyed— including the painstakingly rehabilitated 115-year-old stone townhouse next door.

THE “NIPPER BUILDING” The Victor Talking Machine facilities have been converted into a mixed-use development. Dranoff Properties.

In 2015, Mayor Redd led a demolition campaign that razed close to 600 abandoned houses using $13 million in federal grants. The demolition efforts overcame a seemingly endless number of hurdles to identify the buildings that could be razed safely and to resolve the tax liens on them.

Unfortunately, this resulted in an ad-hoc abatement process, rather than a strategic one designed to strengthen neighborhoods and transfer land to community ownership.

ware

Dela

r

Rive

REGIONAL VACANCY

LUXURY LOFTS Camden’s housing stock is not universally in disrepair. Dranoff Properties undertook a redevelopment of the old ‘Nipper Building,’ the one-time headquarters of the Victor Talking Machine Company, beginning in 2002. The product is a mixed-use complex of 340 “luxury lofts” above small retailers such as the Market Street Bistro. The lofts are located on a lot by the Delaware River waterfront just south of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, made more visible by the broad parking lots that surround it. Charmingly restored row homes cluster around the Rutgers-Camden campus and a new housing development aimed at Rowan University students is located just west of the Cooper Medical School. Subdivisions like Baldwin’s Run, which was developed as a HOPE VI mixed-income community, are also well maintained. But apart from these, there are only a handful of high-end apartments; the only homes listed at prices greater than $150,000 are located in the central business district.

1 housing unit vacant, not for sale or rent

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law

De

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Ri

This shows how much greater vacancy rates are in Camden compared with surrounding municipalities. Bergen Square and Whitman’s Park have particularly high abandonment. It is worth noting that North Camden and especially Cramer Hill, though it is one of the most densely built-up residential areas in the city, has low vacancy. This may be attributed to the immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and other countries who tend to settle in these neighborhoods. Data Source: U.S. Census, ACS 2015 5-year estimates Image Source: Liberty Street, Camden. Blake Bolinger via Flickr.

PAGE 36

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

PAGE 37


RENT BURDEN

Residents paid up to __% of their income in rent in 2015

50%

45%

42%

37%

33%

HEAVY BURDENS RENT Gross median rents in selected census tracts, 2015

$816

$917

$955

$939

$825

F or many Camden families, rent consumes more than half of household income each

month. Median rent in 2015 was $874, about one hundred dollars cheaper than in Camden County. But given the larger and often intergenerational households in the city, plus generally low incomes and a surplus of housing, this price is surprising. Why is the rent burden so high? One source of cost burden is the high property tax that the city must levy in order to operate on the brink of structural deficit. This is compounded by high utility costs, thanks to un-weatherized homes and stressed municipal infrastructure. Insurance costs may also be high because Camden homes are considered a risky bet. When New Jersey residents cannot get coverage through a traditional insurer, they can apply for basic coverage under a FAIR Plan. Kevin Shelly of the Courier Post reported that Camden has the highest number of these plans in the entire state and three times the number in Newark, the runner-up. This suggests that for those who do find a traditional plan, insurance is very expensive. Another source of burden is the competition for the relatively few livable units in Camden. This problem is worsened by the deliberate failure of the surrounding county to supply

PAGE 38

Data Source: U.S. Census, ACS 2015 5-year estimates

affordable housing of affordable housing in the surrounding county (we will revisit this topic shortly). It is easy to see the reality of this inequity in the commuting patterns of Camden’s workforce. Every day, 84% of Camden’s employed population travels to Camden County, Burlington County, or another destination outside of the city to work, but they cannot afford to live there. Camden may also be experiencing the effects of a high concentration of housing subsidies. HUD reported 1,639 Camden households benefiting from Housing Choice Vouchers in 2015. In an article for the American Economic Journal, Michael Eriksen and Amanda Ross found that in cities with an inelastic supply of housing, vouchers induce higher rents. HUD sets fair market rates (FMRs) for 1 to 4-bedroom apartments for an entire Metropolitan Statistical Area. For the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington MSA, FMR for a 3-bedroom unit was set at $1,502 in FY2016. Participating households pay up to 30% of their incomes toward rent and the remainder is paid by HUD. Households thus have an incentive to seek apartments as close to $1,502 as possible to benefit from the largest subsidy. In an elastic market, more housing would be built to meet this new demand. But the Philadelphia MSA has been shown to be very inelastic. As a result, Camden landlords may be able to charge rents closer to the FMR as determined by HUD, even though they are unaffordable for most residents.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

ware

Dela

Rent is 29 to 33% of Household Income

r

Rive

34 to 37% 38 to 42% 43 to 46%

Beideman Cooper's Poynt

Pyne Point

Dudley Stockton

Lanning CBD Cooper Grant Waterfront

Marlton

Bergen Square

Gateway

Parkside

Liberty Park Waterfront South

Whitman Park Centerville Morgan Village

Fairview

e ar

law

De

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ve

Ri

47 to 50%

Rosedale

Cramer Hill

CONSEQUENCES OF COST

T

he cost burdens carried by Camden renters and homeowners have visible consequences. They produce high rates of eviction and foreclosure. According to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, the foreclosure rate in Camden has not fallen since the end of the recession; there were 149 foreclosures in 2015, compared with 26 in nearby Collingswood. In Camden County, 12.7% of home loans were either delinquent, in foreclosure, or bank-owned—more than twice the national average. Foreclosure auctions pepper the Zillow listings for Camden. Data on eviction are harder to find, but personal complaints about eviction and eviction fraud are posted by Camdenites online. Sensational headlines also point to worrying patterns. In the past two years, there have been multiple murders and cases of arson committed by Camden residents after they were evicted. Further, a 2015 survey showed that evictions were a top cause for homelessness in Camden County.

PAGE 39


NEIGHBORHOOD-BASED ACTION

Pyne Point

Dudley Cooper Grant Waterfront

PAYING IT FORWARD

Lanning CBD

Marlton

Stockton

Gateway

Bergen Square Parkside Waterfront South

Liberty Park

Whitman Park

Centerville

Morgan Village

Fairview

er

Another effective neighborhood-based institution was born when the Catholic priest of St. Joseph’s in East Camden struggled to find housing for his Vietnamese and Hispanic parishioners. He borrowed $8,000 to repair a house, sold it to them for that price, and then reinvested the proceeds in another home. By 2002, the St. Joseph’s Carpenters Society had rehabilitated 300 homes. Neighborworks America reports that today, 3,200-plus have completed homeowner education classes; 85% of original SJCS homebuyers still own their homes after up to 30 years; and the foreclosure rate remains at 4%. The decision about which homes to rehabilitate was strategic: SJCS targeted houses near the church to create a stable buffer around the institution.

Rosedale

Cramer Hill

De

BALDWIN’S RUN HOPE VI DEVELOPMENT Kitchen and Associates, 2002.

One of the earliest interventions was the North Camden Land Trust (NCLT), formed in 1984 to combat arson committed by landowners unable to sell and hoping to collect insurance premiums instead. With funding from an early incarnation of The Reinvestment Fund, NCLT rebuilt the 400 block of State Street in Cooper Point. Multiple tenant households co-owned each of the thirty-two structures; they received credit toward their mortgages if they kept up their maintenance. NCLT retained first option for buying back the units when a household decided to sell. The land trust hired North Camden residents to do the

Cooper's Poynt

Riv

THE LAND TRUST

Beideman

are

THE 400 BLOCK OF STATE STREET, N. CAMDEN Google Maps Street View, September 2016.

1980s, Camden turned to neighborhood organizations, especially churches, to devise innovative strategies. Many of these grassroots programs eventually spun off Community Development Corporations, including the Camden Lutheran Housing Corporation, Heart of Camden CDC, North Camden Community Builders, and most recently, the Cramer Hill CDC. The number and strength of these organizations is a source of strength, although they often fade away after a sustaining community leader is no longer able to perform his or her role.

construction work, and with additional funding, gave them formal training for more housing rehabilitation. This level of capacity, plus outrage over a 1989 proposal to site a second state prison in North Camden, galvanized a community planning effort that lead to new housing. But the principal organizer was murdered in 1994 and the North Camden Community Builders went under in 2002. Abandonment and drugs continue to present major challenges.

law

Iaction n the absence of federal and even municipal to address housing inequity in the

er

are Riv

Delaw

PAGE 40

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

PAGE 41


SJCS also helped launch a massive renovation of Westfield Acres, Camden’s first public housing project. HUD funded its transformation into Baldwin’s Run, a mixed-income, mixed-tenure-type HOPE VI community of 523 townhouses.

PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT OF CRAMER HILL Cherokee Investments, 2005.

RENDERING OF NUEVA VIDA HOMES Interface Studio Architects, 2014.

PAGE 42

ONGOING FIGHT FOR EQUITY

A

constant tension in Camden’s housing landscape has been between neighborhoodbased approaches on the one hand (which make meaningful incremental change for individuals, but seem unable to overcome the forces of abandonment, crime, and everdeepening poverty) and top-down, publicprivate redevelopment projects, which promise sweeping change at the price of displacement and loss of resident control. This tension was highlighted in the early 2000’s when New Jersey awarded Camden a $175 million recovery package. The vast majority of the money was allocated for downtown revitalization, with only a little left over. The recovery board classified neighborhoods by “tiers” not based on need but on how easily public funds could leverage massive private investment there. Cramer Hill was designated a Tier One neighborhood and Cherokee Investments put forth a plan to build 5,000 new housing units, plus retail and office space, around a golf course. Having learned nothing

from the urban renewal controversies of the 1960s, the board declared most of the homes in Cramer Hill (a largely Hispanic neighborhood with lower-than-average vacancy) blighted. Massive relocation was therefore in order. Vocal community opposition was largely ignored. The project stalled when residents went to the courts, which declared that inadequate public notice had been given. Everything came to a halt in 2006 when state senator Wayne Bryant, a Camden County native who was intimately involved in the redevelopment, was convicted of accepting unearned money from a company affiliated with Cherokee Investments, from Rutgers-Camden, and other sources. Galvanized by the defeat of the Cherokee plan, Cramer Hill CDC formed in 2008 and led a comprehensive neighborhood planning initiative. The Cramer Hill NOW! plan focuses on small projects that are meant to bring immediate quality-of-life benefits as well as catalyze positive civic participation. New affordable housing units, homeownership counseling, park redevelopment, and neighborhood cleanups are featured. A small-scale, award winning affordable housing scheme called Nueva Vida Homes—originally meant to house Cramer Hill residents displaced by the Cherokee plan—is in its second phase but appears to be moving slowly.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

A REGIONAL STORY

C amden’s housing equity story is also a regional story. Thanks to the 1975 and

1983 Mount Laurel decisions, New Jersey has strict rules about how much affordable housing municipalities must provide. The state’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) was scheduled to release new obligations for municipalities in 1999, but was caught up in a struggle with local governments determined to exclude lowincome residents. They finally released rules that allowed municipalities to devote much their affordable housing to seniors, thereby excluding families with children. The courts ordered COAH to revise its rules. In 2008, the state also enacted a law forbidding municipalities from entering Regional Contribution Agreements, which were a favored way to pass off housing obligations to impoverished areas. When COAH continued to delay, the courts superseded the council and issued new rules in 2015. At least 18 boroughs in Camden County had shirked their fair share housing obligations since 1999 and now had hundreds of units to build. Some localities went to court, arguing that they could not be held accountable for COAH’s mismanagement. But in January 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that municipalities failed to uphold the law at a time when housing was cheap and easy to build—and now they will have to build or covert more than 200,000 affordable homes. The region’s failure to provide housing for

low- and moderate-income households has trapped these families in Camden, even though they often work outside of the city. While suburban communities maintained a carefree exclusivity, households with the greatest needs were concentrated in a place increasingly unable to serve them. As long as this remains the case, Camden will remain dependent on outside funding. Residents will bear the heavy burdens of high rent, underfunded schools, and daily commutes.

The lack of affordable housing in Camden County effectively traps low-income households in the city, even though they often work in the suburbs.

OPPORTUNITIES In sum, Camden faces a mismatch between its housing and its population. Its ability to respond to this challenge is hampered by state and private investment in inequitable development. It is also obstructured by a regional landscape that denies mobility to low-income households and cloisters middle-income professionals in nearby suburbs. Nevertheless, great opportunities underly these challenges:

• •

A more thoughtful strategy for changing the housing stock to meet today’s needs A cooperative model of housing that pools resources and relieves rent burden Regional affordable housing reform More municipal resources channeled to the vibrant community level

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

KEVIN WALSH, FAIR SHARE HOUSING CENTER The executive director of the Cherry Hill-based affordable housing advocacy organization stands with supporters after making arguments to the NJ Supreme Court.Colleen O’Dea, NJ Spotlight, December 2016.

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HEALTH EQUITY

H

ealthy People 2020 defines health equity as the, “attainment of the highest level of health for all people.” This research began with a definition to help interpret characteristics of resident health . The data collected is categorized as either a health outcome, or a factor that contributes to a health outcome. Factors contributing to health outcomes are divided into two types, those related to one’s physical environment, and those related to one’s social environment. This is simply a way to organize observations relating to health, as these groupings often overlap. Since most health data is collected at the county level, it is difficult to identify health outcomes specific to residents of the city. There are, however, several reports identifying existing conditions related to the City of Camden, used in this report.

PART 6 | HEALTH PAGE 44

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

At birth, Camden residents risk exposure to a harsh and harmful environment. Exposures that pose the most threat to Camden residents are those related to lead, air particulate matter, unsafe drinking water, and contaminated soil. Children,

as a result, face a 1:14 risk of developing an asthma-related illness, while the overall rate of asthma in Camden is two and a half times the state’s rate. In 2002 elevated levels of lead found in the drinking water of some Camden City schools prompted the school district to provide bottled water to their students. According to, New Jersey Future, a New Jersey non-profit organization promoting smart growth policies, Camden City Public Schools have a reported nineteen points of discharge that tested positive for lead contamination. The lead contamination is believed to be caused by pipes that carry the drinking water.

COOPER UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL Image retrieved from Google Maps

At a cost of $75,000 a year, bottled water is a more expensive alternative than a long term solution. Cherry Hill had similar problems with lead contamination, and has responded with a remediation plan that includes the replacement of old pipes. As of March 2017, Camden has yet to propose a formal strategy to remove lead contamination from city schools. According to an environmental justice report from the EPA, Camden is among the worst-ranked municipalities in the nation regarding minority resident exposure to environmental hazards. The EPA measures the proximity of minority, low-income, and linguisitically isolated populations

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

WATER DELIVERY TO CAMDEN SCHOOLS Water bottles await delivery to Camden County schools. Photo by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

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SCENE OF HOUSING DEMOLITION Camden’s ageing and abandoned housing stock prompts demolitions that release harmful debris into the soil, water supply, and air of surrounding neighborhoods. Photo by Blake Bolinger via Flickr, 2011.

to environmental hazards within a given geography. These demographic indicators within the specified location are then compared with the parent geography. Not only does this indicate the level of risk associated with proximity, it also provides a measure of equity. It is found that residents of Camden are more heavily burdened by exposure to hazardous conditions related to the physical environment than neighboring populations at the state, regional, and national level. Efforts by the EPA to reduce harm caused by environmental hazards in Camden include 35 Brownfield Grants and one Environmental Justice Grant. Brownfield Grants are used primarily for contaminated soil remediation, while the Enviornmental Justice Grant is intended to reduce the impact on over-burdened communities.

SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

PHOENIX PARK

In 2014, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) converted an abandoned industrial property into a 5-acre riverfront park in South Camden. Doug Burns, August 2014.

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Socio-environmental indicators contributing to health outcomes in Camden can impact health positively or negatively based on several factors. Walkability, open-space, food security, trust in local authority, public safety, access to transportation, knowledge of preventive care, and attention to vulnerable age groups like children and the elderly are just some a few factors to consider when looking at the broader social indicators like alcohol and drug use, physical activity, nutrition, and crime. This section,

examines data related to these issues, and discusses what is being done to improve upon them.

CRIME

Since 2010, Camden’s rate of violent crime rose 18 percent. This trend contrasts other counties in state, which fell 7 percent on average over the same time period. According to a neighborhood statistics reporting firm, the risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Camden is 1 in 50, compared to the state average of 1 in 392. The least safe neighborhoods listed in the report include Coopers Poynt, Marlton, Beideman, and Lanning.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

The City of Camden treats 35 percent of all New Jersey residents seeking treatment for alcohol and drug abuse in more than 20 adiction centers. Last year, Camden County Schools spent over $160,000 on substance abuse treatment. Over 78 percent of those admitted to a treatment facility in Camden are from Camden County. 40 percent of admittance is attributed to heroin and opiate addiction, while 30 percent are seeking treatment for alcohol. The remaining 30 percent is seeking treatment for cocaine, marijuana, and various other substances. Those in a Camden treatment program are typically either on Medicaid or uninsured, unemployed or not participating in the workforce, and living alone.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

OPEN SPACE

Despite Camden’s plentiful vacant land, nearly 30 percent of residents live at least a half-mile from a park or public green-space. Another 30 percent live at least a quartermile from a park. According to a report by CamConnect, the City of Camden provides just under 4 acres of green space per 1,000 residents, whereas New York City provides just under 20 acres and Philadelphia, about 12.5 acres. Coopers Poynt, Marlton, Lanning, and Rosedale are among the neighborhoods with the least open space per capita.

NUTRITION

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of Camden County residents participating in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program increased 39 percent. It is estimated that about 75 percent of New Jersey residents eligible for food assistance participate in the program. In addition to income, improving food security is a function of access. There are three full-service grocery stores and over one hundred smaller markets and convenience stores in the City of Camden. Many of neighborhoods are more than a half-mile from the nearest transit stop. Low transit access eighborhoods like Rosedale, Beiderman, Cramer Hill, and Pyne Point are more vulnerable than others because a lack of access can affect nutrition and health. Camden’s food insecurity has been identified by several organizations that are

working to promote better nutrition for Camden residents. The Salvation Army, Rutgers, Camden City Garden Club, and the Center for Environmental Transforation are among the organizations participating with initiatives for everything from urban gardens, to food education, and farmer’s market partnerships.

OUTCOMES & CARE

According to the CDC, “Chronic diseases and conditions...are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.” Camden’s rate of chronic illness ranks among the highest of all New Jersey counties. Conditions like obesity, diabetes, and asthma may result from a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. In Camden, these outcomes may be linked to limited transportation access, a lack of open green space, and long term exposure to air particulate matter. Camden’s network of healthcare is anchored by three comprehensive health treatment centers. Our Lady of Lourdes, Virtua, and Cooper University Hospital provide service to Camden’s 70,000 residents. According to the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, a network of local healthcare affiliates, costly emergency room usage is disproportionately impacted by a smaller number of residents who visit the ER at a much higher rate than most of the population.

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

MAYOR REDD TOURS CAMDEN CORNER STORES

The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative works to increase the availability and appeal of healthy, affordable food in local stores and bodegas. Mayor Redd visited Fayer’s Market on Haddon Avenue to see the progress. The Food Trust, April 2015.

Mental Health

15

Disability

27 29.5

Obesity Diabetes Asthma

9.2 9.7 % NEW JERSEY % CAMDEN

POPULATION REPORTING CHRONIC DISEASE The percent of New Jersey versus Camden residents affected by asthma, diabetes, and other health issues. New Jersey State Health Assessment Data (SHAD), 2014.

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FOOD ACCESS

er

are Riv

Delaw

Share of households with a car, by neighborhood. < 17% 17 - 23%

Beideman

Cooper's Poynt

24 - 30% > 30% Full Service Supermarket

Rosedale Pyne Point

Cramer Hill

Dudley

Cooper Grant Waterfront Marlton

Lanning - CBD

Food Store Accepting SNAP & WIC Benefits Stockton

F ood Security can be compromised when transportation options are limited and

Gateway

Bergen Square

choices are scarce. This map shows the percentage of households with a car by neighborhood. Although there are several smaller markets and convenience stores in Camden, there are only three full-service grocery stores. The map reveals that households in the northeast and northwest corners of the city are some of the least likely to have a car. Parts of these same neighborhoods are up to a half mile from the nearest transit access point. Together, these factors can make it difficult to access a market or grocery store. With few options, families often do their food shopping at convenience stores, who have a limited selection of nutritious foods.

Parkside

Liberty Park

Whitman Park Waterfront South

Centerville

Morgan Village

Del a

war

eR

ive

r

Fairview

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1 Miles

The Camden Health Explorer, a mapping program used to track ER visits according to insurance status and place of residence, indicates that the uninsured are more likely to overuse the system. The data mapper also takes information on a patient’s place of residence. With this information, the Camden Coalition, founded in 2003 by, Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, a MacArthur “Genius,” can provide targeted care to the most frequent users of hospital emergency rooms. Targeted care can reduce impact on the ER, lower cost and improve patient care. Engaging residents before an “emergency” occurs is a form of preventive and communitybased healthcare that encourages active participation in one’s own health, with the hope of generating better long-term outcomes. The Camden Coalition has been awarded numerous grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Merck Foundation, the AARP, MacArthur Foundation, and Atlantic Philanthropies to name a few.

WHAT WE LEARNED

There are disparities among the several neighborhhoods within Camden with regards to health risk. Additionally, there are disparities between Camden and nearby cities. Neighorhoods in the north and northeast such as Cooper’s Poynt, Pyne Point,

Beideman, Rosedale, Dudley, and Stockton, as well as Lanning and Bergen Square, located in the Central Business District, have the highest risk of violent crime, limited access to transit, and fewer food access points compared to other Camden neighborhoods. Regional health inequities include a higher rate of chronic health problems. Chief among these concerns is the rate of childhood asthma, which is the highest in the region, and particlularly problematic given that children who develop asthma have an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.

CAMDEN CHILDREN’S GARDEN

The cildren’s Cityscapes garden “features replicas of two house facades inspired by Camden, NJ row homes. The front yards demonstrate street-scaping in a small space.”

WHAT’S WORKING • Numerous funding sources for improved care • Leadership & innovation focused on targeted • •

care Increasing rate of medical coverage Broad-based community awareness around the importance of food security

WHAT NEEDS WORK • Rate of violent crime increasing in Camden, • •

while New Jersey’s rate is decreasing Spatial fragmentation hinders connectivity, impedes access to public transit, and reduces food security. Environmental hazards caused by aging infrastructure and heavy industry continue to pose health risks

CAMDEN EQUITY | EXISTING CONDITIONS

RESILIENT ROOTS, EAST CAMDEN

An organization to promote food security for Vietnamese refugees and their descendents launched a community garden in East Camden in 2016. Photo by Akira Suwa.

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STRENGTHS

CONSTRAINTS

DEFICIENCIES

DEFICIENCIES

Camden’s negative reputation as city of high crime deters investment and creates an environment of fear. Basic challenges include an under-trained workforce, depleted tax base, and collapsing sewer and street systems. Large infrastructure like railyards and highways fragment the city into isolated neighborhoods. Residents bear the costs of an aging and unsuitable housing stock. High rates of chronic disease impair quality of life.

OPPORTUNITIES

STRENGTHS

Camden draws strength from its diversity and youth, and from continuing in-migration of Mexicans and Central Americans. The development potential of the waterfront is a great asset, as is Camden’s legacy of community organizing. Victories in fighting for environmental justice, emerging from state receivership, and forming alliances across racial lines inspire Camdenites to seek change at the grassroots. An excellent hospital system provides jobs and care.

Momentum is gathering behind concepts of communitybased policing as well as preventative care strategies at the national level. Camden is poised to benefit from renewed private, federal, and philanthropic investment. A 2017 New Jersey supreme court decision promises regional affordable housing reform. Philadelphia, now enjoying a renaissance and just minutes away, is an untapped source of economic and educational strength.

CONSTRAINTS

OP PO RTU

NIT

IES

SDOC ANALYSIS

The state-led move to privatize education offers new opportunities for some students, but leaves others in underperforming and understaffed schools. The regional labor and housing markets conspire to trap Camdenites in low-wage service jobs outside their home city. Finally, the external funding pouring into Camden comes at a cost: the price is weakened local democratic decision-making.

Photo: Roosevelt Park in front of Camden’s City Hall comes alive for community events.

AGENDA | PLACE CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

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SPATIAL EQUITY AGENDA Camden neighborhoods will be safe and vibrant, fostering a sense of community that allows for the cultivation of civic, social, cultural, and private lives in Camden.

This section promotes a vision of Camden in which spatial inequities are eliminated,

such that all communal spaces are beautiful, safe, and reflective of their communitie’s cultural heritage. In this equitable future, social services and amenities are distributed throughout neighborhoods, eliminating inequities of access. This “Place” agenda therefore proposes strategies for a more equal distribution of goods and services across all neighborhoods in the city. But it also recognizes that equal distribution is not enough to achieve true equity. Unique barriers prevent access to resources for different populations (the young, seniors, the formerly incarcerated). These strategies are therefore crafted with the least powerful in mind. Several achievements will mark Camden’s progress toward spatial equity. By 2020, Camden will have begun implementation of its Shared Hubs for Equitable Development Strategies [SHEDS] Initiative. SHEDS aim to convert existing vacant buildings and lots into community hubs that provide social services and supplies for residents to use as needed. The goal of the SHEDS initiative is to convert idle and underutilized vacant buildings and land to community uses that

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S

H

E

D

S

BY 2020... Camden has begun implementation of the SHEDS initiative.

promote the growth of social, economic, and political capital among Camden residents. The use of the vacant lots adjacent to SHEDS buildings will range from community gardening to children’s playgrounds, depending on the particular desires and context of the SHED in question. By 2020, we aim to establish at least one hub within every neighborhood. By 2030, Camden will invest in placemaking projects throughout the city, rectifying the disparities in infrastructure quality between the Central Business District and Camden’s

neighborhoods. In recent years, Camden has seen a significant amount of investment within the Central Business District and Waterfront areas. Despite the preparation of excellent neighborhood plans and the flow of millions of dollars of public money into the city, residents have not seen adequate improvements in their neighborhoods. Key strategies must ensure that the benefits of Camden’s growth extend beyond the CBD. Ultimately, we envision a Camden in which residents feel safe their schools, homes, and green spaces, and feel they can trust safety enforcers. Thus, in addition to place-based initiatives aimed at bringing resources into neighborhoods, we propose gradually returning from a county police force to local policing. As mentioned previously, Camden suffers from regional inequities, including burdensome concentrations of affordable housing and public infrastructure needs. The Camden County Police Department is a regional body and might therefore seem to offer an opportunity for regional equity. However, Camden has high concentrations of immigrants and minorities traditionally targeted by police discrimination, and the risk of unjust police violence may increase with a force not directly accountable to the city where it operates. Reestablishing a local police force that trains and hires local residents would increase accountability between of police to Camden, as well as provide new job opportunities to residents.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

AGENDA

CONNECTIVE PLACEMAKING

1

REINFORCE THE INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER OF CAMDEN NEIGHBORHOODS

1.1 Celebrate neighborhood plans and identify shovel-ready projects. Cramer Hill, East Camden, and several other neighborhoods have already adopted indepth community-based plans. Their plans should be celebrated and reviewed at an open house held at City Hall. Through consultation with the leading organizations behind each plan, the City should identify low-hanging fruit for immediate funding. This will reinvigorate communities, a necessary prerequisite for subsequent strategies like the SHEDS initiative. 1.2 Draft neighborhood-level street design guidelines. In order to guide equitable investment in street infrastructure, Coopers Ferry Partnership and graduate students in the city planning program at Rutgers University should collaborate with local community groups and residents to draft design guidelines. These will provide visual standards for sidewalks, bike lanes, street trees, etc. that reflect the specific community culture and concerns of the neighborhood in question.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

2

MAKE NEIGHBORHOODS SAFE AND EASY TO ACCESS

2.1 Make capital improvements. Some streets in Camden are extremely degraded. North Camden streets are scheduled for repaving and sidewalk improvements, thanks to a grant won by Coopers Ferry Partnership, but streets in south Camden also require attention. CFP should work with Camden DOT to identify the most heavily used and dangerous streets and update the infrastructure to facilitate public transit, biking, walking, and other modes. 2.2 Honor the Complete Streets Resolution. In the long term, Camden should implement its Complete Streets resolution maximizing the potential of streets to serve as “public rooms” for multiple modes and uses. Complete streets feature not only transportation systems, but also sidewalk cafés, traffic circle gardens, and street trees.

POLICING

1

INCREASE POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY TO CAMDEN RESIDENTS

1.1 Use body cameras judiciously. The CCPD should follow the example of Chicago, Philadelphia, and others in

CAMDEN COUNTY POLICE

Chief of Police J.S. Thomson questions a woman charged with heroin posession. Photo by Jessica Kourkounis for NYT.

ACTIONS TO DATE

In 2013, the Camden City Police Department was disbanded, and the Camden County Police Department was established in its wake. The shift was made in response to rising crime but the county force is plagued with excessive force complaints (50 were filed between 2013 and 2015), while conflicting crime statistic reporting continues to mask the (in)effectiveness of the switch. Despite the uncertainty, Former President Barack Obama recognized the department in 2015 as a “symbol for promise for the nation,” thanks to their community engagement initiatives. Camden has received millions of dollars in capital improvement via Federal TIGER Grants. However, new sidewalks, roads, and street trees are mostly confined to the waterfront. Because similar investments haven’t been implemented outside the CBD, grave spatial disparities persist.

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THEASTER GATES

DORCHESTER PROJECT, CHICAGO Community members eat surrounded by vinyl records in a house rehabilitated by Theaster Gates. Photo by J. Hamblin.

Theaster Gates is a Chicago-based artist who has become famous for renovating a series of vacant structures in the South Side as rich community spaces. The one shown above houses a series of archives: an archive of 60,000 slides formerly belonging to the University of Chicago; a collection of 14,000 books from the now-closed Prairie Avenue Art and Architecture Bookstore; and a record archive­—all to be used in a social space for the local community. The project used scavenged wood to regenerate an abandoned house. Other examples of Theaster Gates’ work in the same area include the Listening House, the Black Cinema House, the Soul Food Pavilion, and, most recently, the Stony Island State Savings Bank. The Bank, which was in poor condition when Gates’ Rebuild Foundation purchased it in 2013, is being reimagined as an “arts bank” featuring creative collections.

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implementing a body camera system. However, even once the reels are turning, accountability is not automatic. In the wrong hands, the cameras may simply intensify police surveillance of poor communities. Policy should clearly describe when the cameras should be turned on; post footage for public review; and delete footage after 6 months. Local civil rights groups (the NAACP, the Latino Leadership Alliance of NJ) should be called on to help craft policy.

2

LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR A RETURN TO LOCAL POLICING

2.1 Include police in new communitybuilding efforts. The CCPD has been praised for its community policing tactics. Police can build on this strength by participating in new efforts to build social capital through SHEDS. Police officers should rely on SHEDS program leaders to identify vacant lots and buildings that currently serve crime and drug hotspots and collaborate with residents to simultaneously secure these lots, maintain them, and step up enforcement.

3

RE-ESTABLISH A LOCAL POLICE FORCE

3.1 Bring back the Camden City Police. In the long term, Camden must re-establish a Camden-based police academy that draws recruits from the city. This will not be feasible until Camden’s fiscal situation improves,

and may meet with resistance from the County and police force itself. The current system is supported by county and state officials, including Governor Chris Christie, who has been a particularly vocal proponent. However, as long as regionaly equity persists, only a city police force will be representative of the people it serves. Camden can help protect this representativeness by offering fellowships to local students to pursue law enforcement education through local college or vocational programs. 3.2 Mandate local hiring. Once a local police department has been re-instated, it should be subject to a hiring requirement that mandates 50% of officers live in Camden City proper.

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

1

SWIFTLY CONVERT VACANT LOTS TO COMMUNITY USE

1.1 Catalog and convey lots to communities. The City should establish a procedure for the acquisition and transfer of lots to community ownership. Seizing abandoned land is legally complex, but the City has prerogative to do so via spot blight abatement provisions. As legal negotiations proceed, tactical urbanism can help activate empty lots. For those without contamination or other safety concerns, public art installations, furniture, temporary

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

WiFi hotspots, and other interventions will restore a sense of community ownership and help residents imagine more permanent future uses. 1.2 Establish SHEDS. Where an abandoned building adjoins a vacant property in densely populated area of an underserved neighborhood (a combination that occurs extraordinarily often in Camden), SHEDS can be created. These Shared Hubs for Equitable Development Strategies are neighborhood centers equpped with a basic set of services: a community job board and job mentoring contacts; a community garden directory and seed dispensary; tools for home and yard care that can be checked out to residents; forms for local, state, and federal assistance programs; and editions of community newsletters and other publications. Each hub will have a community leader appointed as programming director by neighborhood vote. Residents who take on this task will receive special compensation (free transit passes, priority in government services, and possibly free living space in the SHEDS building). 1.3 Customize SHEDS. Depending on neighborhood needs and capacities, residents may organize through SHEDS to focus on additional community programming, e.g. financial literacy, stormwater management through rain gardening, culinary classes, cooperative cooking, or childcare. Additionally, each hub should be considered a canvas for community expression through murals, etc.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

1.4 Harness SHEDS network to address food insecurity. Relying on the expertise of the Camden Community Garden Club, vacant lots adjoining SHEDS should be maintained as kitchen gardens, either as allotments or community gardens. In addition, the SHEDS should become venues for food-buying clubs connected with local farmers (including urban farmers created as part of the comprehensive vacancy strategy discussed in Part 3 of this book).

D.C. BODY CAMERAS

D.C. METRO OFFICER MODELS BODY CAM JaShawn Colkley models a body cam during a 2014 press conference announcing the new program. Photo by Win McNamee for Getty Images.

CAMDEN CITY GARDEN CLUB Pedro Rodriguez, a member of the CCGC, raises chickens in a formerly vacant lot in North Camden, now a community garden. Photo by Kristen Moe for Yes! Magazine.

The Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives found in 2013 that Camden’s almost 260 community gardens produces $2.3 million worth of food, helping feed about %15 of Camden’s total population. The SHEDS Initiative will provide infrastruture to increase Camden Community Gardens.

Washington D.C. has implemented one of the few body camera policies that allows recorded individuals to ask to see footage. It clearly details the process for making such requests. According to the policy, “The subject of a body worn camera recording, his or her legal representative, or the subject’s parent or legal guardian if the subject is a minor, may request to schedule a time to view the BWC recording at the police district where the incident occurred.” Requests can be submitted online or in person. Police officers receiving such requests must immediately initiate the process for making footage available to the requesting party. As of September 2016, officers must also confirm with dispatch that they have their cameras turned on when responding to potentially life-threatening encounters.

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AGENDA FOR EQUITABLE GOVERNANCE Camden’s government will leverage local and external revenue to provide the best services to all residents and ensure local democratic control.

C amden’s government major changes to its

has introduced approaches to development and community engagement in recent years. With the election of Mayor Dana Redd, political corruption waned while a renewed sense of purpose invigorated city government. To capitalize on this moment and win residents’ trust, Camden must continue to address poverty and crime.

Photo: Gary Cobb lost his bid for the state legislature to Rep. Donald Norcross. Photo by Mel Evans for the AP.

AGENDA | GOVERNANCE PAGE 56

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

Camden’s major governing challenges include quality service provision to residents, civic engagement and participation, and chronic budget shortfalls. Between 1999 and 2010, the City was under control of the state due to fiscal insolvency and political corruption. During this time, local elections and democratic processes had no impact on state decision-making in Camden. At the same time, Camden became more, not less, dependent on external aid. In the City’s FY2016 budget, roughly 75 percent of revenue came from external aid, including grants and state aid appropriations, while only 25 percent came from local taxes and fees from residents and businesses. Lastly, Camden’s voter turnout rates have been well below the county’s for the last two decades. Each of these issues represent major compromises to the local government’s

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

ability to furnish basic services. Camden can address these issues head-on by focusing on a transformative vision of how equitable government operates. Key strategies will work with citizens on the ground level to improve government block by block. In the short term, Camden should focus its efforts on building sustainable trust with residents and making government data more accessible to residents and institutions. Camden should administer a city-wide resident satisfaction survey. Established community institutions and anchors, along with new community hubs, can become points for engagement about day-to-day services. The City should also create a userfriendly digital platform allowing residents to access civic information and data. With City services limited by budget constraints, improving flows of information in both directions (down to citizens and up to government) promises immediate payoffs in terms of engagement and transparency. State control and local corruption have left many residents and institutions rightfully skeptical of the government. These interventions would take the first steps toward rebuilding trust.

BY 2020... Camden has a new digital data platform and a resident satisfaction survey.

With improved data infrastructure, Camden can better target services to the areas with greatest need. Improved services in the Central Business District and waterfront have made those areas cleaner and safer. These improvements must extend to all neighborhoods in Camden. Using a data-driven approach is key to achieving maximum impact with limited resources. In the long run, an equitable Camden will leverage development interest in the waterfront along with a stabilizing property base to increase local revenue. It will renegotiate community benefits agreements and put in place a development process that requires large institutions and business to pay taxes or PILOTs in proportion to their infrastructure impacts. This will bring local income to more than 50% of the City’s total revenue. By moving toward financial independence, Camden can reconsolidate its political autonomy and focus its government on the needs of its people, not external investors.

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ACTIONS TO DATE

CAMDEN SPECIAL SERVICES DISTRICT Camden Special Services District Ambassador Jennifer Wowk. Photo by Group Melvin Design.

LARGE-SCALE DEMOLITION EFFORTS

Mayor Dana Redd, city staff, and volunteers in the Bergen Square neighborhood for the 2017 Camden Clean Campaign. Dana Redd via Twitter.

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In 2005, the Camden Special Services District was launched in Downtown Camden in an effort to improve physical conditions and foster economic development. Since its founding, the CSSD has implemented the Clean and Safe Program, providing services like sidewalk cleaning and trash pickups (first only in the downtown and now in other major corridors). Another ongoing initiative to create clean and safe environments is the Camden Clean campaign launched by Mayor Dana Redd in 2010. This annual program draws hundreds of volunteers from inside and outside the city for a week-long clean-up of accumulated debris and illegal dumping areas. It generates a greaty deal of goodwill and positive press, besides presenting a lowcost, ground-level solution to blight removal in neighborhoods that don’t received consistent city services. Both these programs represent strategic interventions the City of Camden has made to improve services in areas across the city. Building on the momentum of these projects is key to achieving the next phase of equitable service provision.

BY 2030... Data-driven strategies provide efficient city services equitably across the city.

A ddressing the Camden involves

government issues in strategic interventions that fall into four major subtopics. The first is fiscal health and investment. It focuses on making Camden a stable city with transparent and efficient processes for the allocation of funds. Given the long history of fiscal fraud in Camden, true fiscal health rests on an aware and engaged citizenry. Camden must also begin to use its municipal authority to encourage key institutions and businesses to reinvest in the city. The second major agenda topic is governance, which re-examines the current governing structure of Camden and recommends changes to operations and departments. The average tenure for a member on the city council is roughly two decades. There has been little turnover in

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

political representation and some positions in the current administration lack skills and qualifications that could improve government efficiency. In addition, the City has no comprehensive tool or method for collecting resident feedback beyond public meetings, which are usually attended by the same cohort over and over. Improving the government’s ability to assess and respond to the desires of the community is thus a major component of this agenda. Strategies under the topic “community participation” seek to improve the relationship and process for government engagement with communities. Given low voter turnout, we proposes interventions that will build on existing community networks to strengthen residential engagement in the political system. A new level of hyper-local government is designed to generate greater resident involvement. The last topic, municipal services, addresses the lack of basic services like trash pick-up, police response, park maintenance, and code enforcement in many neighborhoods, which causes deterioration and discourages investment. Each of these strategic interventions address inequities that exist in Camden today, but they will undoubtedly face implementation issues. Each intervention detailed in the following pages is accompanied by a discussion of implementation issues that are likely to arise.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

AGENDA

FISCAL HEALTH & INVESTMENT

1

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING

LEVERAGE LOCAL INSTITUTIONS AND REVENUE TO BETTER SERVE CAMDEN RESIDENTS

1.1 Institute a new Community Benefits Agreement ordinance. New CBAs would legally require major new developments to negotiate payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), direct service provision, or community amenities in exchange for the tax abatements they receive. A council of citizens would be locally elected in areas with new development to negotiate the CBA with a city employee serving as an independent moderator of the negotiation. Because Camden has no comprehensive CBA legislation, this proposal could face opposition pro-growth advocates. Including options for businesses beyond flat payments would help to allay these fears. 1.2 Establish design guidelines for large developments. Camden’s zoning code should require corporations attracted by tax credits to create facilities that are integrated into the community. Corporate campuses should connect and finance upgrades to local infrastructure. Raising design standards would require increased capacity in the City’s planning department to review new development proposals. Using increased

Residents who are unable to consistently participate in local government processes often feel excluded from municipal financial decisions. Participatory budgeting is a way of making fiscal decision-making more democratic and transparent. By this process, money is allocated by those affected by a budget rather than by elected officials or bureaucrats. The process is typically used to allocate infrastructure and capital improvement funds at the ward level. Chicago is one of the most successful implementers of participatory budgeting in the country. Since 2009, the 49th Ward in Chicago has allocated $1 million annually through the process. In addition, by 2016, participatory budgeting had expanded to include $6.2 million dollars of infrastructure funding in seven wards. Residents of these wards have been in direct control of where taypayer dollars go, and have used the funds to upgrade sidewalks, parks, and community spaces. Chicago residents who volunteered in the budgeting process described an increased knowledge of local government, a greater sense of community, and a de-mystification of government spending.

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CITISTAT SYSTEM

MAYOR O’MALLEY, BALTIMORE (Former) Mayor Martin O’Malley addressing the press on the then new CitiStat program. Photo by PBS.

In 2000, the City of Baltimore relied heavily on state aid to meet its operating expenses and was experiencing high levels of crime and poverty. Newly elected Mayor O’Malley introduced the CitiStat system to better manage service provision. CitiStat uses data collected from city departments on performance indicators, human resources, and service provision. The city’s executive staff uses this data in key meetings with the department leaders to address shortfalls and target help to agencies demonstrating inefficiencies. One of the best aspects of the system is that it relies heavily on information technology already in place, including basic payroll and GIS. In its first year in Baltimore, CitiStat paid for itself for several years into the future by saving the city $13 million. Nearly all potholes were repaired within 48 hours and more trees were planted. The system had low startup costs (~$20,000 to equip a briefing room and $350,000 per year of use).

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local revenue from new tax agreements could allow for expanded planning staff. 1.3 Create a geographic targeting system for federal grant allocations. Using the Reinvestment Fund’s Market Value Analysis tool, Camden’s Bureau of Grant Management would target CDBG and HOME dollars to areas demonstrating the most need (in consultation with residents). Areas with established community organizations may argue against the diversion of funds to areas with greater need but less capacity. Thus, this policy must both build capacity and take into account the impact grant dollars can have in the hands of strong organizations. 1.4 Implement participatory budgeting. Discretionary funds for neighborhoods such as federal grant dollars should pass through a participatory budgeting processes at the neighborhood level. Ward Council members will co-facilitate. To prevent groups and individuals with community influence from dominating these sessions, this strategy must include efforts to value the voices of the least heard.

GOVERNANCE

1

REFORM GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS FOR EFFICIENCY AND RESPONSIVENESS

1.1 Revamp the City’s digital platforms. Working with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and Philadelphia-based geospatial analytics

firm Azavea, the City’s Office of Vital Statistics will create a new digital dashboard and app reporting municipal service quality, government activities, and community events. The app will be easy to download and user-friendly. To offset the cost of the new platform, the City should present it as an exciting challenge (with real social impact) for the coding and app development community already well known to Azavea. 1.2 Introduce term limits for City Council members elected at the ward level. The City should amend its Administrative Code to add term limits for the four council members elected on a ward basis, setting a maximum of two eight-year terms. The three remaining council members would remain without term limit. This measure would increase turnover among elected officials, allowing for more Camden voices to be heard, while safeguarding institutional knowledge. Since current council members would have to enact limits on their own power, the Mayor may need to submit a referendum to be voted on by all of Camden 1.3 Create a new city administrator position. Another key intervention is to replace the City’s Business Manager position with a City Manager certified by the International City Manager Association, who would serve under the mayor and be selected and approved by the Council. The current Business Manager positon sets no specific qualifications; a reconfigured position would add a greater level of accountability and professionalism to government operations.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

1

INCREASE COMMUNITY CONTROL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

1.1 Create a formal network of block captains. Block captains would report blight, service quality, and city responsiveness to their local council member at monthly ward meetings. One block captain would be elected to co-facilitate participatory budgeting meetings with the Ward council member. Incentives and accommodations for parents, youth, and the elderly will need to be offered to reach areas with low engagement. 1.2 Move local elections to the weekend. A new “Vote Camden!” campaign will coordinate volunteers and CDCs to provide election-day services and incentives such as childcare. In addition, local elections should be moved to the weekend to accommodate busy work schedules. Changes to election dates must occur at the level of the county, which is responsible for recording all election data. Collaborating with the county may prove cumbersome, but promises great benefits in terms of voting rates. 1.3 Collect data on resident satisfaction. The City should seek partnerships with SHEDS (Shared Hubs for Equitable Development) and established community

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

anchors as partners for collecting information on municipal service quality from residents. This strategy relies on engaging all residents where they are most comfortable. It provides useful information and also helps portray the government as responsive.

CLIP & BLOCK CAPTAINS

SERVICES

1

PROVIDE IMPROVED MUNICIPAL SERVICES EQUITABLY ACROSS THE CITY

1.1 Digitally monitor municipal services. Using the platform created in Governance Strategy 1.1, the City can include a function allowing residents to upload service quality issues and areas of the city in need of services. Citizen-generated data will then be aggregated to publish an annual “City Service Score” rating service provision by neighborhood. Such 311 systems are widely employed in cities and have decreased in cost. 1.2 Use SHEDS for lot clean-up. Residents have potential to supply many vital neighborhood services, but lack the tools. Pursuant to this strategy, the City would stock all SHEDS with lawn mowers, bags, shovels, etc. for residents to use for maintaining their properties, community spaces, and “adopted” vacant lots. Local organizations already providing similar services should be sought out for possible collaboration within the SHEDS.

CLIP AT WORK Two city workers loan out tools for lot clean-up. Photo by Philadelphia Community Life Improvement Program.

In Philadelphia, a program that has shown small-scale success in neighborhood maintenance is the Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP). CLIP was created in 2001 to address vacant lots. It loans out tools and supplies to volunteers who want to maintain their block. CLIP also provides a graffiti abatement program. In 2016, over 40,000 vacant lots were inspected, 1,200 community service projects were completed, and over 6,000 pieces of equipment were loaned. In addition, the city’s approximately 6,500 block captains form a network of grassroots maintenance capacity. The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) oversees this network. Residents contact PMBC to elect a block captain. A candidate needs 51% of the neighbors on the block to be elected; then PMBC Clean Block Officers provides clean-up materials for block captains to use. Last year the block captain network cleaned over 6,000 blocks in Philadelphia.

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AGENDA FOR EQUITY IN EDUCATION Camden’s schools will promote the development of cognitive skills and socialemotional wellbeing for all students & empower every child on their path to success.

E ducational equity in Camden will rely on positive, engaging schools and early

childhood programs that promote the development of cognitive skills and the social emotional well-being for all children. So far, weak academics have been a serious hindrance to Camden residents in achieving equitable outcomes in employment, quality of life, and the fulfillment of personal potential. In a more equitable city, institutions of learning will empower residents by providing academic rigor and forging support networks that link schools and community. Innovative programs must cater to the needs of youth in a city of concentrated poverty and a regional school system that is deeply discriminatory.

Photo: The Fellowship greets Camden students on their way to school.

AGENDA | EDUCATION PAGE 62

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

This agenda proposes three metrics of to gauge the success of Camden in achieving educational equity. By 2020, Camden will have a plan to guarantee the enrollment of 15 percent of new parents in ‘baby college’ education. The first years of life are crucial to building a strong foundation for educational success. Early childhood education not only prepares students for school, but also stimulates some of the most crucial cognitive development.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

Ensuring access to such benefits means more than just having programs available. Residents impacted by unemployment and poverty often face hidden barriers in accessing such programs. Providing multiple avenues for parents to enroll their children in baby college will thus be crucial in fulfilling this goal. By 2030, 75 percent of students will be proficient in Reading and Math upon enrolling in high school. Camden has had historically low proficiency rates for its children in both these subjects. Many of the schools in Camden have proficiency rates in the single digits, and it is common for students to enter the fourth grade without having learned to read or do basic math proficiently. The outcomes of such delay are dire and have been shown to put students on track to drop out from high school. The abilities to read and do elementary math are critical to a child’s success in school as well as their capacity to contribute to Camden’s economy and stability. Ultimately, this plan envisions a future wherein all students are educated according to a common academic standard based on

preparation for postsecondary education and the workforce. Whether students ultimately decide to enter the workforce directly after high school or to pursue further education, each deserves a high-quality academic education that lays the groundwork for success. Today’s high schoolers must graduate to think critically, learn new skills, and innovate the solutions Camden so desperately needs. Preparing high school students for success in their post-high school careers, whatever they may be, requires that educators strategically address key barriers to students’ academic achievement.

BY 2020...

75% of students are proficient in reading and math upon entering high school.

BY 2030... Camden has a plan to guarantee the enrollment of 15% of new parents in Baby College.

ULTIMATELY... All students are adequately prepared for paths in post-secondary education or in the workforce.

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ACTIONS TO DATE

A ddressing the state of education in Camden is no small feat. It would be

simplistic to assume that all of Camden’s educational issues can be dealt with in one equity plan. However, four key topics deserve immediate attention, School Goverance, Academic Experience, School Environment, and Holistic Learning. Key strategies both inside and outside of the classroom will set Camden on the path to equitable educational opportunities for its young people.

STUDENTS AT THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL BASH The Center for Family Services recognizes the role of the community and family in student success. Photo by CFS.

Although Camden has struggled with providing residents with adequate education, there are many people that refuse to let children in their city fall through the cracks. For instance, the Center for Family Services has been a leader in providing high quality familial services in partnerships with residents, schools, corporate partners, and social service providers. Recently, it was awarded a Promise Neighborhood Implementation Grant that will offer educational support in the some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods. Above, students attend its annual back-to-school bash. Another project called Camden Ignite sparks student discovery through STEM, art, athletics, literacy enrichment, mentoring, and college exposure. It is a collaboration between Rutgers-Camden and the (very active) North Camden community.

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AGENDA

SCHOOL GOVERNANCE

1

INCREASE STUDENT AND STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT

1.1 Create a Youth Advisory Board. High schoolers sitting on the Youth Advisory Board will work in conjunction with the School Board (which is an unelected body appointed by Mayor Redd) to help craft decisions that are more sensitive to student experiences. The 2014 School District plan, The Camden Commitment, recommended creating a Youth Justice Taskforce to “advance community-based interventions and programming for at-risk students across the city.” If this is intended to be a taskforce made up of youth, it can serve as the Youth Advisory Board.

1.2 Form Community Advisory Boards. Parents and guardians must also have a say in decisions that affect their children. Mayor Redd should recruit community members and parents and guardians to sit on additional School Advisory Boards. These boards should have a voting power equivalent to one School Board member plus a right to participate in hiring decisions for new staff and administration. Sean Brown, a former School Board member and founder of the Young Urban Leaders group in Camden, has already made calls to reinstate an elected board and gathered petition signatures to do so. Such grassroots action can be met with compromise in the form of some voting power.

2

ENSURE EQUITABLE TEACHER AND STAFF CULTURAL REPRESENTATION

2.1 Affirmatively hire Black and Latino instructors. The Fellowship is a Camden organization fighting for greater numbers of Black, male teachers in the classroom. Such teachers have the potential to act as role models for students who are statistically more likely to be incarcerated or become victims of violence. The School District should work with the Fellowship to facilitate the intentional recruitment of Black and Latino teachers, particularly male teachers. It is important to note that Black and Latino male teachers cannot bear the responsibility for “saving” inner-city youth. Nevertheless,

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

research has shown that Black students who have had at least one Black teacher are more likely to graduate. Finding qualified teachers committed to staying in Camden for an extended period of time may be difficult. Thus Strategy 2.2 recommends increasing the number of residents prepared to teach. 2.2 Prepare residents for teaching jobs. In partnership with Camden Community College and the many career-readiness organizations in Camden, the School District can work to prepare current Camden residents into teaching careers. 2.3 Conduct equity training. Students can be the victims of their teachers (unconscious) prejudices, setting up a system of race and gender inequality for a new generation. Equity and diversity training for current and new teachers can help make instructors aware of their own biases and help them introduce restorative justice rather than discriminatory discipline to their classrooms.

3

DEMAND EQUITABLE TREATMENT OF CHARTER AND RENAISSANCE SCHOOLS

3.1 Enforce standards for charter school performance. Currently, New Jersey Charter schools are authorized by a state agency and reviewed annually by the Office of Charter Schools. In other states, localities have much more power in approving and regulating charters. The City should lobby the state to gain some voice in holding

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

charter school authorities accountable for their academic and financial performance beyond the state decision every five years of whether to renew their charters.

years. Such an assessment could be modeled on the Camden Commitment but place special emphasis on students’ differential outcomes based on variation across schools.

3.2 Ensure that public school funds are not siphoned off. Charter and Renaissance schools do not merely provide an alternative to public school, they actively decrease the quality of public schools by absorbing students and shared resources. School budget monies should be tagged and allocated according to a strict formula of school system need and representation.

4.2 Formalize communication with the Central Office. Currently, poor and informal communication with the Central Office leaves some schools isolated from district-wide resources and reform. The communication and coordination between schools and the Central Office can be improved with an enhanced intranet site and scheduled check-ins.

3.3 Address inequitable distribution of new facilities and equipment. Renaissance schools’ construction is subsidized by federal grant money. Meanwhile, public school students are left with aging buildings, equipment, and supplies. Renaissance schools and any charter schools receiving federal dollars should be required to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement that demands contributions above and beyond what public schools provide. All new facilities should also be required to negotiate CBAs.

4.3 Measure administrative performance. Historically, Camden residents have complained about a lack of transparency and responsiveness. Under Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, tighter fiscal controls, staff hiring, and opportunities for professional development have all been implemented. However, there remains an inequitable distribution of resources across the School District. Camden schools receive annual “report cards” based on teaching and student performance. The central school administration should be held similarly accountable for fair distribution and administration. New “administrative report cards” can be funded via reductions in areas where the district has over-invested.

4

HOLD CENTRAL OFFICE ACCOUNTABLE FOR EQUITABLE SERVICE

4.1 Assess current inequities. The School District should complete a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and needs of each school, whether private or public, to inform instructional improvements in future

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A DISTRICT—CHARTER ALLIANCE

ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE

1

D.C. MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER The Mayor of D.C. speaks with students at Leckie Elementary School. Photo by Jabin Botford, Washington Post.

Nearly half of Washington D.C. students attend charter schools. In 2015, the Mayor announced a taskforce that would work to foster collaboration between traditional and charter schools for increased efficiency and more equitable student outcomes across all schools. According to the announcement of the initiative, areas of collaboration will include “purchasing, job recruiting, transportation routes, data sharing and dissemination of best practices in teaching.” The taskforce has met monthly since its founding an will conclude its efforts in July 2017 by presenting a series of recommendations to the Mayor. It has researched the experiences of Denver, another pioneer in district-charter collaboration. Ultimately, the taskforce hopes to work toward “a high-quality system of neighborhood schools complemented by schools of choice.”

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PREPARE STUDENTS FOR PRE-KINDERGARTEN AND KINDERGARTEN

1.1 Draw parents’ attention to early childhood. In 2016, Camden achieved close to 100 percent enrollment of three- and four-year-olds in preschool programs (district, private, or Head Start). Superintendent Rouhanifard believes strongly in the importance of an early start. Camden should act on the example of the Harlem Children’s Zone in creating a “Baby College.” This program will help expectant parents and caregivers understand early childhood development and brain function. It can be administered through the Office of Early Childhood in partnership with Camden Healthy Start and other prenatal care programs. 1.2 Aim for early literacy. Again following Harlem Children’s Zone model, the school district should create a program of workshops for 3-year-olds and their parents to focus on developmental milestones and age-appropriate activities that foster early literacy. Introducing new programs may prove difficult in an environment of fiscal stress, particularly in the face of proposed federal budget cuts under the Trump administration. The administration’s proposed budget would eliminate the 21st

Century Community Learning Centers Program, federal grants to before- and afterschool programs, and summer programs. However, local foundations such as the William Penn Foundation have found early childhood education to have extremely high social impact and worthy of funding. value of a diploma. More rigorous ways of getting students to the finish line must be considered.

2

PROMOTE YEAR-ROUND HOLISTIC LEARNING

2.1 Set reading goals for the summer. Friendly competition can keep children reading even when schools are not in session. The School District should collaborate with the Camden County Library System to host an annual summer reading challenge, with read-aloud performances and prizes awarded at a celebratory event marking the start of each school year. Such initiatives are low-cost and often eligible for small grants. 2.2 Build useful skills in idle months. The School District can also administer a summer internship program in collaboration with anchor institutions such as Cooper Hospital and Camden-based businesses (Holtec International or Subaru of America), teaching students skills in emerging industries. Internships introduce students to jobs that may be available to them postgraduation, perhaps helping to motivate them in completing their education.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

2.3 Host literacy campaigns. In West Philadelphia, an anti-poverty group called RSVP recruits reading buddies and pen pals for students identified as needing additional reading help. Camden can learn from RSVP’s work to offer extra-curricular programming that breaks the cycle of illiteracy in the city.

3

RESTORE MEANINGFUL ACADEMIC EVALUATION

3.1 Evaluate and revise the HSPA alternative testing and graduation appeal. Alternative testing for students who have repeatedly failed exams necessary for graduation can take the form of a single question that students are given a whole day to complete. Such testing is not indicative of a student’s ability and cheapens the value of a diploma. More rigorous ways of getting students to the finish line must be considered.

SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

1

ENSURE THAT SCHOOLS ARE GOOD NEIGHBORS

1.1 Empower schools to activate vacant lots. The vacancy strategy addressed in Part 3 of this book will discuss means of conveying vacant lots near schools to the

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

School District, to be used for additional instructional space, to enhance safe corridors for students walking to school, and to address the threats to student safety associated with abandoned property. 1.2 Tap students to maintain lots. Schools may have few resources to devote to additional maintenance. However, caring for vacant lots represents a service learning opportunity for students. Schools adopting lots can create student task forces charged with school property clean-up.

2

MAKE SCHOOLS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL STUDENTS

2.1 Expand transportation choices for students. Camden students living within 2.5 miles of a school are not provided transportation to school. In 2016, Superintendent Rouhaniford responded to student complaints that they encountered prostitution and drug dealing on the way to school by expanding transportation to students within 2 miles of school. However, the district should also work to improve the safety of key corridors, so that a healthy walk remains a viable choice. In addition, it should take cues from the Baltimore Students Attendance Campaign and collaborate with New Jersey Transit to target transitto students with especially high barriers to attending school and academic programs.

BABY COLLEGE

PROUD GRADUATES OF BABY COLLEGE

Participants in the Harlem Children Zone’s innovative Baby College Program. Photo by the HCZ

The Baby College curriculum is a nineweek series of workshops and home visits to expectant and new parents. Parents learn about child safety, communication, intellectual stimulation, linguistic and brain development, and health and nutrition. Staff go door to door to engage new participants in the program. In addition, classes are offered in English, French, and Spanish to maximize inclusion. Indeed, the curriculum is specially designed to promote a sense of community in Harlem. Time in each class is devoted to sharing personal experiences, which gives participants an important outlet and an opportunity to learn from and enjoy the support of their peers. The program has been featured on This American Life and many other media programs as a successful effort to break generational cycles of poverty. Program operators believe the key to its success is its flexibility, with home visits built into the curriculum.

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BOOKS ON BIKES

BOOKS BRING BIG SMILES A team of librarians in Charlottesville, VA bring picture books to children in public housing communities.

ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE

3

INCREASE ACCESS TO NON-TRADITIONAL LEARNING SPACES

3.1 Get gradeschool students into college classrooms. The School Distrct should build partnerships with Rutgers and Rowan universities so that instructors have the opportunity to teach specific classes on college campus throughout the year, and so university students can interact with younger students in an environment dedicated to higher learning.

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3.2 Take learning beyond the school. In addition, anchor institutions such as the Aquarium, Campbell’s Soup, and others can host classes on biology, food systems, and so forth to help students apply their knowledge to real-world contexts. In addition, a “Take Your Student to Work Day” mentorship program would be an inexpensive way to expose students to potential careers.

4

MAKE SCHOOLS SAFE AND COMFORTABLE FOR STUDENTS OF ALL PATHS

4.1 Focus on guidance rather than policing. Research and common sense tell us that when students do not feel safe in schools, they are less likely to attend

Books on Bikes is a community outreach and literacy program created by librarians and teachers to bring books to children in Charlottesvill​e, VA. Its mission is not only to deliver books and foster a love of reading to children, but also deepen the relationship between Charlottesvill​ e residents and the local school community. The program hosts an annual bike parade across the city. Students decorate their bikes, set off from the school with the most students qualifying for free and reduced lunch and end with a Grand Summer Reading Kickoff at the Central Library downtown.

regularly or perform well. Traumatic events in the school environment impair teaching and learning, diminish instructional time, decrease student and teacher attendance, corrode school culture, and recalibrate success as survival rather than academic achievement. An initial strategy is to increase the number of guidance counselors and decrease police presence in schools such that the ratio of counselors to children is greater than the ratio of officers to children. 4.2 Develop alternatives to harsh discipline. Meditation and yoga programs, plus restorative justice techniques, should be preferred ways of handling poor student behavior. Students’ perception of their own safety should never be sacrificed simply to teach a lesson.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

HOLISTIC LEARNING

1

USE PLACE-BASED APPROACHES TO EDUCATING CHILDREN

1.1 Engage students in the collection of community knowledge. A new initiative, Teens Helping to Involve Neighborhoods and Communities (T.H.I.N.C.), would help disengaged youth learn real skills through community partnerships. T.H.I.N.C. members should be trained to collect data and community-based wisdom related to vacancy, eviction, and other problems that affect the school system and all of Camden. Another T.H.I.N.C. taskforce can partner with the Camden police to keep school neighborhoods safe and actively participate in the process for acquiring vacant lots for school use. 1.2 Publish a democratic school newsletter. Students, teachers, and administrators should contribte to a districtwide newsletter published in both English and Spanish that keeps the community informed of local school issues. An inschool newspaper/literary club headed by a dedicated instructor can spearhead the publication and distribute the newletters to local SHEDS.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

1.3 Move towards the Community School Model. Community Schools integrate academics with health and other social services benefiting the surrounding community. Initial steps can include opening school gymnasiums to informal adult sports teams in the evenings.

2

IN-SCHOOL BANK

BRING REAL-WORLD LEARNING TO SCHOOL HALLWAYS

2.1 Expand transportation choices for students. Camden High School should partner with the South Jersey regional Wells Fargo to open an in-school bank in which students can work, enhance relevant math skills and learn financial literacy. 2.2 Create pathways to college. An employment and technology center could provide afterschool and summer programs to promote college readiness. A partnership with Rutgers and Rowan has the potential to open a guaranteed admission pathway based on performance in readiness programming.

STUDENT-RUN UNION BANK BRANCH The student-run bank is in Lincoln High, Los Angeles. Photo by Alexandra Schmidt for NPR.

The Union Bank office pictured above is one of three such in-school branches in California. All three are located in neighborhoods with lowincome and heavily immigrant populations. The accounts are real, and handle actual currency, but are reserved for students, teachers, and parents. Union Bank provides students with training to become tellers, gives them stipends, and sends them off with a small scholarship for college. While Union Bank does not expect to reap a profit from the in-school branch, it does provide positive public relations and loyal customers. For their part, students say they are gaining solid financial skills.

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AGENDA FOR ECONOMIC EQUITY BY 2030...

Camden will have a balanced economy that thrives because of a focus on long-term benefits to residents and a leveraging of key anchor institutions.

C amden’s economy has been declining for nearly half a century, leaving residents with

a median household income of $25,000 , or about half the national average. While jobs have been returning to Camden due to new waterfront developments, the State of New Jersey has spent $1.5 billion in tax incentives to woo them there. Over half of the jobs in Camden are in anchors institutions in the education and medical industries, yet only 13 percent of jobs city-wide are held by Camden residents.

Photo: A Hackathon at Hopeworks, in North Camden. Mel Evans for the Associated Press.

AGENDA | ECONOMY PAGE 70

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

The City has been hard at work to turn things around. The Cooper’s Ferry Partnership has been working since its founding in 1984 to redevelop the waterfront, and has attracted and coordinated over half a million dollars of private and public investment in that neighborhood alone. These efforts have helped to attract large corporations to Camden, bringing promises of economic revival. The newly constructed Salvation Army Kroc Center provides financial literacy, tax preparation, and entrepreneurial development classes to all residents. The Camden County College Corporate Training Institute’s career training and job placement services work in conjunction with Camden employers, and the Latin American

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

All residents are enrolled in a comprehensive job training program.

BY 2020... Residents city-wide are provided with financial counseling and career-building resources.

Economic Development Assoc. (LAEDA) provides entrepreneurs with the support they need. Nevertheless, high-quality jobs and entrepreneurial capital continue to elude residents. This suggests that hidden structural barriers prevent the benefits of investment from flowing to residents. A new agenda is needed to lower these barriers and ensure equitable access to opportunity. This plan envisions Camden with a balanced economy structured for the long-term interests of residents and stabilized by the input of key anchor institutions. By 2020, it aims to provide residents with financial counseling and career building resources. By 2030, all unemployed residents will be enrolled in a comprehensive job-training program. Ultimately, the median household income will rise to the national level.

ULTIMATELY...

$

$

Median household income matches the national median.

AGENDA

T

he equity plan for Camden’s economy involves addressing four key subtopics, including resident financial capabilities, commercial corridors, workforce development, and institutional stewardship. As discovered in the existing conditions chapter, there are several organizations working on building financial capabilities among residents, but it is unclear which are the most high impact and could be scaled. Residents need help managing personal finances, and a city-wide financial literacy program would be a good first step.

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ACTIONS TO DATE Recognizing the importance of stable and well-paying employment quality of life, Camden organizations have variously pursued strategies of business incubation, financial literacy counseling, workforce development, and business attraction. THE SALVATION ARMY KROC CENTER

The newly constructed community center provides a myriad of services to the local community.

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, a nonprofit community planning group founded in 1984, has historically (and successfully) focused its efforts on redeveloping Camden’s waterfront, attracting and coordinating more than $600 million of private and public investment in Camden. The Salvation Army Kroc Center, built in 2014 in Cramer Hill ,has provided financial literacy, tax preperation, and entrepreneurial classes for residents.

A NEW WOMEN’S BUSINESS CENTER Mayor Redd celebrates the new Women’s Business Center, founded by the Latin American Economic Development Assoc.

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Several career training, job placement, and entrepreneurial development services also already exist (e.g., Camden County College Corporate Training Institute, Latin American Economic Development Association, Inc.).

Strengthening commercial corridors outside the Downtown would help bring eyes back to the streets and provide jobs for unemployed residents. Although anchor institutions and larger corporations are doing much to provide employment opportunities in Camden, the City has to support its small businesses and entrepreneurs. By focusing on neighborhood commercial corridors and priority business types, the City can reinvigorate once vibrant corridors with civic and economic life. Workforce development will go a long way in supporting unemployed residents and creating a strong talent pipeline for incoming businesses. This program should be demand—driven, serve fast growing industries who provide jobs at a living wage, and link with new government subsidized business development along the Waterfront. Additionally, the City should understand the largest barriers to employment among its residents (e.g., lacking GED, criminal background) and work with employers to relax these restrictions. Finally, Camden’s anchor institutions such as Cooper Hospital and Rutgers University could increase their impact by supporting more local businesses. A procurement strategy that identifies Camden small businesses providing goods and services already purchased by Camden anchor institutions could connect the two and increase the strength of the local economy.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

RESIDENT FINANCIAL SKILLS

1

IMPROVE FINANCIAL LITERACY AMONG ADULT RESIDENTS

1.1 Review existing services. The first step in designing financial literacy programs is a thorough review of existing services offered by service providers in Camden. This review should determine how many people are served, map their trajectories before and after program participation, and measure the cost-effectiveness of different approaches. 1.2 Gather resident feedback. While a review of existing programs may suggest gaps in service offerings, the City should partner with T.H.I.N.C. to survey residents for a better understanding of what puzzle pieces are missing on a neighborhood-byneighborhood basis. 1.3 Integrate financial counseling into community hubs. A basic service provided by the SHEDS network will be financial literacy counseling. The City should subsidize financial counseling courses tailored to neighborhood needs, as revealed in Strategies 1.1 and 1.2.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

2

CONNECT RESIDENTS TO PUBLICLY AVAILABLE FINANCIAL RESOURCES

INCLUSIVE START-UP FUND

2.1 Direct residents to existing services. Many federal, state, and even local resources for job search and financial assistance already exist, yet are difficult to find. The City should maintain an online resource page and calendar for workshops, career fairs, and limited-time opportunities.

3

FOSTER ENTREPRENEURSHIP AMONG UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS

3.1 Review existing services. The City should partner with the CFP to evaluate existing entrepreneurship program offerings, populations served, and geographic reach. 3.2 Gather resident feedback. The City should create a startup fund managed by the Reinvestment Fund (TRF) to provide capital and mentoring to startups founded by underrepresented groups, modeled on Portland’s Inclusive Startup Fund. 3.3 Integrate financial counseling into community hubs. House incubator program in SHEDS to provide physical network and office space for budding entrepreneurs.

INCLUSIVE STARTUP FUND COMMITTEE Photo by the Portland Development Commission.

Portland’s $3 million fund aims to foster minority business growth in one of the most historically non-minority cities in America. The fund will invest $20 to $50,000 in each minority-owned startup that is selected, and offer mentoring and business advice to each recipient. The funding comes from a combination of city, county, state, and private resources and is managed by Elevate Capital, a socially-minded venture capital group. The fund will provide increased access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs, expand the local pool of angel investors of color, and encourage the existing venture capital community to invest in diverse founders.

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MINORITY BUSINESS ACCELERATOR

COMMERCIAL CORRIDORS

1

SMARTER IN THE CITY, ROXBURY, MA Melissa James, Kofi Callender and Gilad Rozensweig talk in a conference room at the incubator’s Roxbury location. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR.

Smarter in the City supports entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities and neighborhoods in the tech sector develop exciting new startups. Twenty companies have successfully passed through the nonprofit, no-equity accelerator program since 2014. The accelerator has been praised for its efforts to boost the startup economy in Boston’s neighborhoods. Admission to a cohort comes through an application process, and special attention is paid to entrepreneurs from Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. The accelerator is designed to maintain equitable representation of minorities and women in entrepreneurship as the City of Boston injects millions of dollars into Dudley Square, which until it was transformed by the grassroots Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative, was plagued by poverty and disinvestment.

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INCREASE ECONOMIC VIBRANCY OF NEIGHBORHOOD COMMERCIAL CORRIDORS

1.1 Evaluate missed opportunities. The City should contract with an economic analytics firm to perform a leakage study of each commercial corridor revealing which goods and services residents are unable to purchase within local commercial corridors. 1.2 Map commercial vacancies. The vacant land database created in Housing RighSizing Strategy 2.1 (see page 83) should include vacant real estate along commercial corridors, the status of the land title, and a photo showing the condition of the building. 1.3 Substitute imports with local goods. Once the City has gathered information about consumer needs and business infill locations, it can adopt a low-cost strategy to attract successful small businesses providing the missing good or service from elsewhere in Camden. A similar initiative is already underway along Federal St. in East Camden.

2

DEVELOP, RETAIN, AND GROW SMALL BUSINESSES

2.1 Study challenges of entrepreneurship. Relying on the expertise of LAEDA and others, the City should conduct focus groups

and surveys of small business owners to understand challenges to starting and growing a small business in Camden. 2.2 Support small businesses. Improve capacity building efforts to best support small businesses.

3

INVEST IN CORRIDORS THROUGH BUSINESS OWNER ENGAGEMENT

3.1 Form advisory groups. New commercial corridor advisory groups should liaise businesses and Council members to coordinate corridor improvements. 3.2 Maintain corridors to attract customers. The Camden Special Services District (CSSD, page 58) is already expanding to include more services in more areas. Commercial corridors should be among these targeted areas.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

1

EXPAND REACH OF THE CORPORATE TRAINING INSTITUTE

1.1 Promote local hiring. Require all corporations receiving public funding to meet with the Corporate Training Institute at Camden County College before groundbreaking to discuss how CCC can help to prepare a workforce to fill open positions at new locations.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

2

CREATE A CITY­—WIDE MARKET—DRIVEN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

2.1 Review current workforce development efforts. Conduct a review of existing workforce development programs serving Camden’s unemployed (e.g., OneStop Career Centers). 2.2 Identify target occupations. Identify labor market shortages in growing industries, targeting occupations with wages above the median income, and with preference on industry clusters in Camden or other easily transit accessible locations. 2.3 Provide tailored training and placement. Program SHEDS with workforce development programs to provide skills training and supportive services to help residents obtain and retain jobs. 2.4 Provide flexible avenues to access services. Leverage local technologists (e.g., HopeWorks) to innovate technological solutions to deliver education or connect residents to jobs.

3

CAMDEN RESIDENTS RECEIVE PREFERENTIAL HIRING IN CORPORATE BUSINESS GROWTH

3.1 Help residents make connections. Connect residents trained through industryspecific workforce development programs with open positions.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

4

EXPAND JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR “HARD TO EMPLOY” GROUPS

LEVERAGING ANCHORS

4.1 Analyze common barriers to hiring. Understand the impact of GED, background check, and drug test requirements on Camdenites not receiving job offers. 4.2 Relax requirements for certain industries. Relax requirements for targeted industry jobs.

INSTITUTIONAL STEWARDSHIP

1

EXPAND JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR “HARD TO EMPLOY” GROUPS

1.1 Evaluate best practices in procurement. Review existing procurement practices and “buy local” amounts with all businesses and institutions receiving public support (including city and county government). 1.2 Select goods and services to procure. Identify procurement categories with highest possibility of buy-local success (e.g., construction, catering, janitorial services). 1.3 Support businesses in completing their contracts. Create impact funds among local institutions to provide below market rate loans for small businesses to scale up operations to complete contracts.

GREATER UNIVERSITY CIRCLE INITIATIVE A 2013 report highlights the successes of the University Circle Initiative in Cleveland, OH. Cleveland Foundation.

The Greater University Circle Initiative is a robust partnership among the Cleveland’s anchor institutions to foster economic and community revitalization. To date, the Initiative has created three employee-owned companies through the Evergreen Cooperatives Initiative, developed a workforce training center, launched an employer-assisted housing program, catalyzed changes to the city’s public transportation system, spurred over $140 million in new, public-private development, and helped direct an increasing percentage of the institutions’ more than $3 billion in purchasing toward local businesses.

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AGENDA FOR HOUSING EQUITY BY 2020...

All Camden residents will be able to access and retain housing that meets their current needs, becomes a resource for their future, and strengthens their community.

A

Photo: South Camden Theatre Company rehabilitates a closed taphouse on Jasper & 4th Street in South Waterfront

AGENDA | HOUSING PAGE 76

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

n agenda for housing inequity in Camden must operate at multiple scales. Zooming out to the regional level, the supply of affordable housing is not equitably distributed among Camden and its neighbors. Boroughs surrounding the city, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, and Collingswood, have failed to meet state-mandated obligations for hundreds of affordable units. This leaves low-income residents trapped in Camden City’s housing market, where competition for a limited number of habitable homes causes rents to rise. Thus, if any plan hopes to achieve equity, it must reach beyond the city’s boundaries. Camden’s neighbors should be asked to share the benefits they have reaped in higher property values, better schools, and less need for public services by excluding low-income residents. At the city level, inequities exist in the allocation of grant and other public dollars. We have seen examples of corporate developers receiving city and state support for projects that do little to improve quality of life for residents, or even displace them. Meanwhile, few resources exist to support grassroots initiatives to improve housing quality, such as tenant-owned housing cooperatives or community land trusts. Camden’s community-based housing

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

developers such as the St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society seek their own funding sources and keep their distance from City Hall. In 2006, this inequity was brought to the public eye when a plan by Raleigh-based Cherokee Investments to build a golf course in North Camden and surround it with 5,000 homes disintegrated amid allegations of corruption. An equity plan will funnel more resources directly to resident groups and Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and complement this with strategies to involve local residents in housing rehabilitation and construction. Rehabilitation, new construction, and demolition should be coordinated across the city, in consistency with a strategy that concentrates housing opportunity near transit, parks, and highperforming schools. We propose that by 2030, half of all vacant homes should be either occupied, or repurposed for community, environmental, or economic use. Most households in Camden are renters. Despite the large number of empty houses in the city, renters usually pay more than a third of their income in rent (up to 50% in some tracts). This high rent burden

Camden has a strategy for concentrating housing opportunity in the most resourceefficient areas.

is partly the result of very low incomes. But it also raises concerns about a basic mismatch between Camden’s housing stock and the shelter needs of residents. Housing may be too run-down, or too far from the services on which residents rely, to satisfy their demand. Other reasons for high rent burden could include rent extortion or vulnerability to eviction, and significant barriers to homeownership. An equity plan must find ways to reduce costs and increase residents’ options. Camdenites be able to access housing as an asset, not as a drain on hard-earned income. We envision a future in which housing cost burden for renters and homeowners alike is no more than 30 percent of income. Some housing burdens fall especially hard on children and the elderly. Older residents on fixed incomes may lack both the strength and the funds to make repairs, so drafty homes remain unimproved. Lead-based paint poisoning can cause lasting mental damage to children, preventing them from fulfilling their potential. An equity plan must bring all homes to basic livability standards.

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ACTIONS TO DATE BY 2030...

A number of very important steps have already been taken to improve housing equity. Future actions must build upon earlier successes.

CAMDEN ‘POWER’ PROGRAM A man coats seals a roof to improve the efficiency of a home at 310 Rand Street. Photo by Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

LARGE-SCALE DEMOLITION EFFORTS

A Camden-based demolition company clears debris from a long-vacant structure. Andrew Burton for Getty Images.

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Camden POWER was an initiative headed by Cooper’s Ferry Partnership that used a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to weatherize 161 homes at no cost to residents. Many homes achieved 30-45% energy savings, and four homes garnered more than 50% in savings. Though the grant has now been disbursed, many more homes could benefit from similar treatment. In addition, the St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society has conducted preliminary testing for lead hazards on three homes and all three tested positive. The CDC has won a state grant to test and remediate 65 homes in 2017. Since there is a great deal of overlap between remediation and weatherization, there is potential to combine such efforts. In 2015, the City of Camden aggressively addressed its vacancy problems by demolishing nearly 600 vacant homes. This eliminates sources of blight and havens of crime in the city. Many vacant structures remain, however, and future efforts should contribute to a holistic vacancy strategy that assigns uses to cleared lots.

1/2 of vacant homes have been repurposed or occupied.

ULTIMATELY... Housing cost burden is 30% of income or less, and all homes meet basic livability standards.

$

AGENDA

A

n agenda for equitable housing in Camden can be framed in terms of four key topics. The first is affordability and livability, which acknowledges the interrelated nature of housing quality and cost. It addresses three issues believed to contribute to the burdensome cost of housing: (1) the concentration of an entire region’s demand for low-cost housing in one city, which Camden struggles to meet, despite building far more than its fair share of subsidized housing; (2) high utility costs due to unweatherized homes; and (3) additional costs, restricted buying choices, and dampened property values due to unsafe living conditions. The second topic is homeownership. In Camden, owner-occupiers typically have lower monthly housing costs than renters, according to U.S. Census data. Households

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

can also use homes to build wealth, borrowing against them for their children’s college educations, business start-ups, and other crucial investments. Owned homes can be sold for a return as property values rise (which has begun to occur in parts of the city like East Camden). And there should be absolutely no reason to forego homeownership in a city with so much empty housing. That is why St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society, Heart of Camden, and other CDCs have chosen to promote homeownership whenever possible. Our plan furthers these efforts. The third topic is tenure stability. Both renters and homeowners in Camden risk losing their homes, the former, due to eviction, and the latter as a result of foreclosure. Once evicted or foreclosed upon, low-income families have even greater difficulty securing another place to live, sending them on a downward trajectory. Nearby Philadelphia has been pioneering efforts to combat these problems, and Camden should follow its lead. Finally, this plan will address the concept of right-sizing Camden’s housing stock to meet residents’ current needs. We recommend a two-pronged approach that (1) promotes investment in housing designed to accommodate local families (not just Philadelphians looking for a steal) along the waterfront and in the vicinity of anchor institutions like Cooper’s Hospital and Rutgers University; and (2) imagines creative new uses for the surplus units that are no longer needed for habitation.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

AFFORDABILITY & LIVABILITY

1

ON-BILL LOAN PROGRAM

REMEDY INEQUITABLE BURDENS THROUGH EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS.

1.1 Evaluate the impact of Camden POWER. The Camden POWER program weatherized 161 homes at no costs to residents. An analysis should determine who is benefitting from the grant (familes with children? elderly residents? certain neighborhoods?) and which improvements had the greatest impact on their housing cost burden. 1.2 Identify high-impact locations. Using Census and property data, the City should partner with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership to identify neighborhoods with high numbers of pre-1950s homes which can be bundled for efficient contracting. Homes with children should be prioritized. 1.3 Form pathways to employ residents. The City should select contractors for weatherization work based on their willingness to form a partnership with Camden Community College to train underemployed residents in repair, lead risk assessment, and remediation in accordance with the 1992 Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Act.

Energy efficiency upgrades can save a great deal of money over time, yet large downpayments on appliances, insulation, lighting, or weatherization are not feasible for low-income residents. On-bill financing allows utility customers to pay for upgrades over time with their utility savings. This is a good bet for utility providers, since on-bill programs typically have lower default rates than regular loans. Help My House is an energy efficiency loan program that piloted on-bill financing in South Carolina via the Central Electric Power Cooperative in 2011-12. Participating households are highly satisfied, since they save an average of $1,157 each year postimplementation. If all these savings were used to pay the initial loan, it would be repaid after only 6.6 years. However, participants are given 10 years to pay. Sealing ducts and replacing old furnaces proved to make the biggest difference in utility costs.

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“OWNER-GENERALS”

1.4 Develop an on-bill loan program. The City should partner with PSE&G and other utility providers to allow residents to pay for unsubsidized efficiency upgrades using their real utility savings. PSE&G is launching a project that will equip households with smart meters, making such a program even more feasible.

2. RUTH ANN NORTON, G&HHI The executive director of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative in Baltimore. Photo by Matt Roth for the NYT.

The severity of Baltimore’s lead problem was highlighted by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody; Gray had suffered lead poisoning as a child. In 1993, Baltimore was one of 10 jurisdictions awarded HUD funding to design a lead remediation program. One of its innovations was to require housing owners to bring their units to code before getting lead work done. At first, this simply caused delays. Baltimore responded by inventing a new contracter designation called, “owner-general.” In effect, property owners could become their own general contractors, hiring crews and becoming certified themselves in lead control, so that they could carry out the full scope of work. Owner-generals were not allowed to make a profit, yet evaluators found that they were more motivated than regular contractors to do the work well. The result was better, and came at a lower cost.

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BRING HOMES OF MOST VULNERABLE TO BASIC SAFETY STANDARDS.

2.1 Evaluate Lead Safe Home Remediation program. Through LSHR, New Jersey awarded Camden a certain number of dollars to test and remediate homes with lead-based paint. It is being administered by the St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society. It will be important to see how widespread lead risk is and how expensive it is to remediate in order to design subsequent programs. 2.2 Enforce 2008 state law. Camden should work with New Jersey Department of Community Affaris (DCA) to enforce a 2008 state law requiring pre-1978 small rental properties to register and be inspected for lead-safe conditions. If the DCA continues to stall in implementing the law, Camden should explore a joint strategy to address lead hazards with Philadelphia, which has faces lead-based paint challenges on an even larger scale. 2.3 Offer lead remediation services. Develop a lead remediation component for

the weatherization program discussed in Objective 1. Collaborate with the Camden County Health Department to acquire an XRF machine (lead-level detector) using the DCA’s Lead Identification and Field Testing grant, established in 2010. All homes selected for weatherization should be tested for lead and remediated if necessary. 2.4 Deputize multi-family property owners as remediators. Offer zero-interest loans to owners for the first $5,000 of lead removal work they perform themselves, to be forgiven in 5 years if housing is kept up to code & taxes current. The program may be modeled on the Baltimore, MD precedent (left).

3.

LOWER HOUSING COST BURDENS FOR OWNERS AND RENTERS.

3.1 Reallocate funding to neighborhoods. Set up formal channels to send projects and funds to local Community Development Corporations before non-local developers. When this is not possible, require developers to partner with CDCs to fulfill community engagement requirements, incorporate affordable set-asides, or pay into an affordable housing fund that can be accessed by CDCs.

taking advantage of New Jersey’s generous tax treatment for cooperatives. Designate a CDC to act as a technical advisor to tenants. 3.3 Establish Cooperative Housing Units.Camden should consider New York’s experience. The city seized thousands of occupied units from landlords who failed to pay their taxes in the 1970s and 80s. A community non-profit called the Urban Homestead Assistance Board advised tenants on the practical aspects of forming a limited-equity cooperative. The City gave these cooperatives first option to acquire the property. By 2000, over twenty thousand units had been converted to cooperatives. 3.4 Enable regional cooperation. Camden and its surrounding counties should form a regional authority to oversee equitable affordable housing development and to share tax revenue for schools in proportion to each municipality’s percentage of market rate housing. This promises to be politically challenging, but is crucial. Camden can make the case that Camden County and others are experiencing the negative spillovers of concentrated poverty and already pay for policing, libraries, and parks in the city. Regional housing reform would ultimately result in economic benefit for all parties.

3.2 Foster housing cooperatives. Establish a conversion program to encourage tenants in substandard rental properties (or where landlords refuse to abate lead hazards) to incorporate as limited-equity cooperatives,

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

HOMEOWNERSHIP

1

PROJECT ROW HOUSES

HELP HARD-TO-HOUSE GROUPS ACCESS STABLE TENURE

1.1 Counsel prospective homeowners. The St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society (SJCS) offers extensive bilingual counseling to residents in East Camden, helping them select a house, make a financial plan, prepare mortgage documents, and transition to homeownership. Now, East Camden has rising property values and low vacancy. By partnering with SJCS, Heart of Camden, and Camden Churches Organized for People (CCOP), the City could expand such holistic services to all residents. 1.2 Marry artist residency and affordable housing. The Sacred Heart Cathedral in South Camden is hub of social and artistic capital. Father Michael Doyle has helped local groups acquire and rehabiliate buildings for artistic activity, such as the Nick Virgilio Writer’s House the South Camden Theater. This hub could be enriched following the model of Project Row Houses (see sidebar, right), in which an arts incubator became the anchor for a community offering transitional housing and a path to homeownership for single mothers. In addition to empowering residents, a creative community might attract artists and social justice activists from nearby Philadelphia. Like Project Row Houses, however, this effort will require a deeply dedicated creative leader.

RICK LOWE, FOUNDER Rick Lowe is the Houston artist who founded Project Row Houses. Photo by Brett Coomer for the Houston Chronicle.

In 1993, the painter Ricke Lowe and six other African-American artists took over a block of “shotgun” or row houses in Houston’s Third Ward, then an inner-city neighborhood troubled by drug trafficking, unemployment, and teenage pregnancy. They turned the houses into art installations. Next, they engaged local arts groups, community groups, and churches to form a nonprofit, Project Row Houses, that would give other African-American artists substantial studio space. By 2003, the project had morphed into a “social sculpture” designed to use art as a catalyst for community revitalization. After-school education and other community programs sprang up by popular demand and ran on volunteer labor. Lowe began re-developing nearby houses as low-income units. Some became places for young mothers to stay while completing their educations or securing housing elsewhere.

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NEIGHBOR 2 NEIGHBOR

TENURE STABILITY

1 GRATEFUL BENEFICIARIES OF N2N

N2N has helped Kyra Smith and her daughter stay in their home. Photo by Chelsie Ketchum for the Coloradoan, 2016.

Neighbor to Neighbor [N2N] is a nonprofit in Larimer County, Colorado that works to help renters avoid eviction. N2N analyzes renters’ spending to identify opportunities for saving, draws up a budget, and even provides simple services like lending clothes hangers to tidy the apartment. A small monthly repayment schedule allows participants to pay back rent and stay current on payments. In the program’s first year (2016), N2N worked with 56 households who were behind on rent or had housekeeping issues. It saw 100 percent success in keeping participants in their homes. In late 2016, N2N lost funding for its emergency rent assistance program and began organizing “rent parties.” These are chiefly cookouts in a public park, and provide a chance to ask for donations that make modest but important contributions towards rental assistance.

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PREVENT FORECLOSURE AND PREDATORY LENDING.

1.1 Spot foreclosure before it happens. As of 2016, Camden County had a foreclosure rate far higher than the national average, and the second most distressed properties of any NJ county. The City should partner with the County to implement a foreclosure hotline and develop a foreclosure risk information system tracking water and utility shutoffs and subprime lending. This would allow the City to identify households on the brink of foreclosure and intervene with Strategy 1.2. 1.2 Provide emergency loans and arbitration. The City can also partner with Camden County to implement a foreclosure prevention program helping residents access emergency loans through the New Jersey HomeKeeper Fund. It should also arrange foreclosure arbitration with lenders. A study of Philadelphia’s foreclosure diversion program found that it significantly reduced the chance of losing one’s home. The average cost to save a home was only $3,310.

2

2.1 Conduct an eviction survey. The City should train groups of volunteers to conduct an eviction survey in Camden modeled on Matt Desmond’s Milwaukee Area Renter Survey. Concrete information about the prevalence of evictions, typical landlord practices, and vulnerable groups will be the basis for effective strategies. 2.2 Mediate landlord-tenant relations. Based on survey findings, the City can design an eviction prevention program that will help vulnerable residents pay their rent on time and mediate their relationship with their landlord. One precedent is Neighbor 2 Neighbor in North Colorado (sidebar, left). The program should target families with children and non-English-speaking residents. A good partner might be Clarifi, a nonprofit financial literacy organization based in Camden. 2.3 House families with unstable tenure. A system of micro-infill units or strategic rehabs should be developed to house residents temporarily relocated during lead remediation, evicted, or otherwise displaced. If the household cannot return to private housing, they have the option to acquire the unit through sweat equity.

ENSURE HOUSING STABILITY FOR VULNERABLE GROUPS.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

RIGHT-SIZING

1

PROMOTE AFFORDABLE UNIT DEVELOPMENT & PRESERVATION PROXIMATE TO PUBLIC SERVICES.

1.1 Amend the Zoning Map. The City should engage residents in revising the 2004 Downtown Redevelopment Plan’s zoning to require affordable housing development near the waterfront. Downtown parcels owned by the Camden Redevelopment Agency (CRA) are an opportunity for mixedincome housing development. The greater challenge will be to refrain from granting special exceptions to developers who wish to build more office buildings and luxury lofts, especially if they promise to pay taxes. 1.2 Evaluate demolition strategy. The City should engage the Reinvestment Fund (based in Philadelphia) to study the consequences of its 2015 demolition efforts, determining neighborhood price effects, the distance from condemned properties to public facilities, and the current use of cleared properties. The Reinvestment Fund’s previous evaluation of the federallyfunded Neighborhood Stabilization Program is a good methodological model. This will inform Right-sizing Strategies 2.1-2.4.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

2

MAKE STRATEGIC USE OF VACANT HOMES AND PROPERTIES.

2.1 Track and categorize vacancy. As part of the 2018 “Camden Clean” events, the City should train volunteers to map, photograph, and assess the basic conditions of vacant buildings. This information can lay the groundwork for an interactive property information system that residents can freely update. A confidential version of the system might also incorporate information based on foreclosure filings, utility shutoffs, and code violation data. Coopers Ferry Partnership can then use the system and consult with residents to categorize vacant properties as suitable for environmental, commercial, or community re-use. 2.2 Enforce property maintenance standards. At the same time, Camden must expand its code enforcement team to prevent further deterioration and abandonment. Efforts should focus on directing struggling residents to resources rather than imposing penalties. 2.3 Coordinate vacant land acquisition and disposal at the regional level. New Jersey is one of few states in the U.S. that have chosen not to enable municipal land trusts (Gov. Christie vetoed enabling legislation for the second time in 2015). However, the Camden Redevelopment Agency can collaborate with Camden County planners to establish policies consistent with regional

plans for environmental systems, parks, trails, and infrastructure. 2.4 Pursue creative repurposing strategy. Finally, residents, businesses, and the City should work together to set vacant land on a path to reuse. Whether that path involves infill; community land ownership; demolition and land assembly for parks, habitat, or urban agriculture; or grooming for business use depends on a strategy discussed in the last chapter of this book.

3

SHIFT TOWARDS HOUSING TYPES CONFIGURED FOR TODAY’S RESIDENTS.

3.1 Prevent illegal subdivision. Using its expanded code enforcement team (see Strategy 2.2), the City should enforce regulations against landlords who illegally subdivide homes to extract more rent. This adds to overcrowding and poor conditions. 3.2 Promote yard space for children. Local CDCs find that many families would prefer a house with a yard to a rowhome. With so much vacant space, the provision of yard space and landscaping should be a design priority for future housing projects.

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AGENDA FOR HEALTH EQUITY

BY 2020...

Every school will be partnered with a school-based primary-care health center.

Camden will have access to affordable & nutritious food, safe drinking water, clean air, and an environment that promotes physical activity.

Poor health outcomes are one of the greatest disparities that Camden residents

face. Compared to New Jerseyans on average, Camden residents have a tripled rate of food insecurity, a doubled risk of respiratory illness, and suffer the highest mortality rate related to drug overdose as well as the second highest homicide rate. Camden’s rate of teen births is among the highest in state, while infant mortality is ranked second. Health care costs are also among the highest paid by any New Jerseyans, though household income is much lower than the state average. The level of physical activity is among the lowest in the state, and the rate of adult obesity is among the highest. In sum, compared to the state, Camden is one of the worst performers in nearly every category of health indicator.

AGENDA | HEALTH PAGE 84

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

Camden’s across-the-board lackluster health performance invites a deeper look into the socio-environmental determinants of health and health outcomes. In Part 1 of this book, we detailed linkages between health data, daily activities, and the network of services specific to Camden that may explain poor health outcomes relative to neighboring counties and the state.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

In order to promote health equity for Camden residents, this agenda lays out a four-pronged approach. First, it aims to encourage physical activity to improve physical and emotional health; second, to develop a visible citywide food system that meets the needs of all residents; third, to improve air quality and provide safe drinking water; and fourth, to improve the provision of health services through data collection and targeted services. While nearly every city struggles to ensure positive health outcomes for residents, Camden lags far behind neighboring cities. Clearly, its road to health equity will be long. Thus, all strategies are phased over the short, medium, and long term. On the day that residents enjoy physical activity, great food, clean air and water, and affordable health services on par with state averages, the broadest requirements of equity will have been satisfied.

AGENDA

E

xtreme economic, social and environmental disparities are creating poor health outcomes for Camden residents.

BY 2030... 60% reduction in the Meal Gap.

ULTIMATELY... A reduction in Carbon emissions by 43% of 2012 levels.

Compared to New Jerseyans on average, Camden residents have a tripled rate of food insecurity, a doubled risk of respiratory illness, and suffer the highest mortality rate related to drug overdose as well as the second highest homicide rate. Camden’s rate of teen births is among the highest in state, while infant mortality is ranked second. Health care costs are also among the highest paid by any New Jerseyans, though household income is much lower than the state average. The level of physical activity is among the lowest in the state, and the rate of adult obesity is among the highest. In sum, compared to the state, Camden is one of the worst performers in nearly every category of health indicator.

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ACTIONS TO DATE In 2015, Rutgers School of Nursing partnered with Camden LEAP University Charter School by establishing a school-based health center to serve as a primary care facility to over 1,000 students.

PRIMARY CARE NURSE WITH STUDENT Rutgers-Camden Nursing School is partnered with LEAP Charter School to provide primary care to school children. Photo by LEAP Academy Charter School.

Established in 2008, the Camden Coalition of Health Care Providers has been awarded millions in grant funding to address patients who experience extreme patterns of hospitalization with few results. The Coalition provides targeted care through a provider data sharing network. In 2016, the Cooper Foundation launched the Camden Health & Athletic Assoc. A $1 million grant to support health by promoting youth recreation leagues, will be used to upgrade facilities, purchase new equipment, and reduce registration fees.

DR. JEFFREY C. BRENNER, MD In 2003, Dr. Brenner founded the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. Photo from Macfound.org.

PAGE 86

Camden’s across-the-board lackluster health performance invites a deeper look into the socio-environmental determinants of health and health outcomes. In Part 1 of this book, we detailed linkages between health data, daily activities, and the network of services specific to Camden that may explain poor health outcomes relative to neighboring counties and the state. An estimated 14 percent of Camden residents are classified by the state of New Jersey as Food Insecure. Food Insecurity, as defined by the USDA is a, “household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Its estimated that 65 percent of Camden residents qualify for SNAP or WIC benefits, yet only about 75 percent take advantage of food assistance programs. Our goal for 2030 is therefore to reduce Camden’s Meal Gap by 60 percent—a reduction target that brings the rate of food insecurity below the current state level. Our program to address food security focuses on reducing procurement frictions, increasing availability, and establishing provider networks. This program will utilize local CSA’s, regional farmers, and vacant parcels to establish local food production networks. In 2016, countyhealthrankings.org reported that 27 percent of Camden residents are physically inactive, the effects of which can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. We believe that a safe and welcoming physical environment will encourage, or at minimum allow for, more physical activity through the use of outdoor Camden’s rate of childhood asthma is more

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

than twice that of New Jersey. Developing asthma at a young age can lower physical activity and lead to higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The plan aims to improve Camden’s air quality by reducing carbon emissions 43 percent in the long term. To achieve this, the plan calls for aggressive air-monitoring and persistent lobbying of state, local, and port authorities.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

1

IMPROVE PHYSCIAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH WITH PHYS. ED. PROGRAMS

1.1 Use Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids (SPARK) programming as guidance for performance standards, and effective methods of delivering physical education to “high need” families.

2

IMPROVE COMMUNITY HEALTH BY INVOLVING LOCAL FITNESS INDUSTRY

2.1 Award community service grants to businesses in the local fitness industry who offer free community classes and utilize outdoor space when possible. Partner with CCHCP. 2.2 Utilize Faith in Prevention, an organization of faith-based affiliates who provide the infrastructure for activites that promote improved health outcomes. Partnership network will include CCHCP, who will leverage block grants from the New Jersey Department of Health received through the CDC, and RWJF.

3

ENHANCE DESIGN, SAFETY AND PROGRAMMING OF PUBLIC SPACES

1.2 Increase participation in leaguesanctioned after-school sports programs, aimed at both boys & girls. Bridge partnership between Camden School District and the Camden Health & Athletic Association

3.1 Generate and maintain a landuse inventory and database with attention on open space, vacant land, and abandoned buildings. Utilize New Jersey Tax Assessment data to access lien, deed, and entitlement information.

1.3 Partner with safe pathway iniative to remove mobility barriers for school children attending after school activity. Facilitate, if-necessary, a child’s transporation from school or home to the activity or event.

3.2 Petition the city for tenure rights of vacant parcels by providing clearing, remediation, and beautification.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

FAITH IN PREVENTION

3.3 Partner with enviornmental design organizations like NYC-based inhabitat. Use these organizations to facilitate designbuild competitions to revitilize blighted lots.

A HEALTHY MEAL

Religious institutions can serve as important intermediaries providing preventive care. Photo by the Camden Coalition.

In 2014, the New Jersey Department of Health launched its ‘Faith in Prevention’ program to promote fitness and healthy eating through faith-based programming. In 2014-15, nine religious institutions (including churches and mosques) offered their congregation exercise routines, healthy cooking lessons, and other wellness programs. By 2016, the number of participants had more than doubled. The Camden Coalition for Healthcare Providers administers the program. A next step might involve seeking local fitness industry partners who are willing to offer donation-based community fitness classes.

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NEEDS-BASED CSA

FOOD SECURITY

1 STUDENTS ORGANIZED RUTGERS AGAINST HUNGER (SO RAH) SO RAH is a student-led organization that addresses food insecurity through education adn outreach.

Urban food deserts like Bergen Square (below), will benefit from student organizations and volunteer programs, like SO RAH (above).

“DEEP ROOTS CAMPAIGN” AIMED AT GENERATING LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION

1.1 Expand Camden Food Security Advisory Board to include all stakeholders. The Board currently does not include food purveyors in a sitting advisory position. Partner with local entities like Campbells Soup Foundation CSF and Camden Children’s Garden, to secure grant funding for community gardens and Community Supported Agriculture. 1.2 Develop a programming strategy to include local food production on vacant parcels. According to a 2009 report out of Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives, Camden can produce on average 0.5lb of mixed produce per ft2. 1.3 Organize community events aimed at identifying suitable land stewards through the SHEDS program.

2 BERGEN SQUARE

According to the USDA, Bergen Square is a “low income, low access district,” where a significant share of residents are low income and live more than 1 mile (urban) from the nearest supermarket.

PAGE 88

CSA PROGRAM ADDRESSING LOW-INCOME, LOW-ACCESS COMMUNITIES.

2.1 Establish baseline needs criteria for adequate CSA delivery, stipulating a 52 week provision cycle, with all-doorstep delivery, and accpets WIC and SNAP benefits.

2.2 Provide a service and compensation agreement that ensures resident needs are met, and the purveyor is adequately compensated for additional services provided. 2.3 Source volunteer packaging and delivery labor from local colleges and community organizations. Parnterships may include Rutgers Against Hunger RAH, Camden Community College, the Faith in Prevention program.

AIR & WATER QUALITY

1

WATERFRONT SOUTH AIR QUALITY INITIATIVE

1.1 Install air quality monitors throughout the city particularly at and near schools, bus stops, and polluting facilities to get accurate and consistent air quality data. 1.2 Use air quality data to aggressively lobby state and local authorities, as well as the South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC), for a clean energy agenda and carbon reduction targets. 1.3 Evaluate truck-route efficiency in neighborhoods adjacent to port and warehousing facilities. Partner with SJPC, Office of the Mayor, and South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA).

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

1.4 Perform emissions overhaul of School and Municiapal Bus fleet financed by grants through the EPA’s Deisel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). Use successful programs like, Pennsylvania’s Green Truck and Bus Fleet, Colorado Green Fleet program, and the Gilroy Califronia electric bus program. Explore all fuel alternatives including Bio-Diesel and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

2

CCSD - TEST AND PROTECT “TAP” WATER PROGRAM

2.1 Remove lead from CCSD drinking water. According to New Jersey Future, Camden has the second highest occurance of Lead contamination, among city schools, in the state. In 2016, CCSD schools tested positive for elevated Lead levels at 19 separate points of points of discharge.

HEALTH SERVICES

1

1.3 Create an accessible and standardized approach to determine health equity at the micro-level. Use this data to develop the Camden Health Equity Index.

2

IDEAS FOR CLEAN AIR

TARGET HIGH-NEEDS & FILL GAPS IN HEATLH RELATED SERVICES

2.1 Establish primary-care centers in every Camden school. Bridge relationship between school district, the Cooper Foundation, and local medical and nursing schools to 2.2 Provide bi-lingual services for all health-related programs. Partner with local network of providers to improve pointof-contact service.

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA WATER TESTING PROGRAM From British Columbia to Colorado and Pennsylvania, states are helping school districts “ride-clean” by securing EPA grants for clean energy transportation systems.

2.3 Use SHEDS to host addicition recovery meetings and bi-monthly, visits by a volunteer health practioner who administer basic check-ups to local residents.

STANDARDIZE BLOCK-LEVEL COLLECTION OF HEALTH DATA

1.1 Boost data collection and databanking efforts at the local level to better understand place-based health concerns. 1.2 expand electronic health recording by utilizing Medicaid incentive programs at the micro-level.

CAMDEN EQUITY | AGENDA

POTENTIAL AIR-MONITORING ALONG EASTERN EDGE OF WATERFRONT SOUTH Aggressive air monitoring in neighborhoods bordering ports, heavy industry, and freeways, can provide Camden with the data needed to lobby for raising air quality standards.

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“LOTS OF OPPORTUNITY”

A VACANY STRATEGY FOR BERGEN SQUARE WHY A VACANCY STRATEGY?

C amden’s revitalization strategies have largely focused on promoting waterfront

redevelopment by stimulating private investment. This narrow, top-down approach is meant to generate the greatest growth at the least cost to the city. But in practice, it has resulted in a highly inequitable distribution of resources. Furthermore, Camden residents are excluded from the design process. As a result, new development has failed to produce desired outcomes in the realms of health, education, housing tenure, local employment, food security, and civic participation.

LOTS OF OPPORTUNITY:

BERGEN SQUARE

PAGE 90

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

More than half of Camden residents travel outside of the county for work, even while demand for groceries and other retail services in the city remain unmet. The employers who do exist in Camden, such as local hospitals, usually enjoy tax-exempt status and hire more people from neighboring counties than Camden residents. Constructing tax-exempt corporate headquarters in Camden’s business district is therefore of limited benefit to residents. This question, who benefits?, was foremost in our minds in proposing a new plan for development in Camden.

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

If the goal is to extend the benefits of development from Camden’s waterfront into the neighborhoods, there are two major assets to consider. The first is Camden’s vacant land. Roughly 18% of Camden’s housing stands vacant, and a vast number of lots remain unimproved by any useful structure. Legal and cost barriers to acquiring such properties and remediating contaminated land are definite hurdles. Yet all stand to benefit from the activation of vacant lots, which have become sites for dumping and other illegal activity. Secondly, Camden is rich with community organizations that have mobilized to fight poverty, violence, and systemic discrimination. These organizations can be found in every one of Camden’s 19 neighborhoods and represent a great resource for implementing strategies that make use of Camden’s vacant lots. A thoughtful, holistic vacancy strategy can accomplish many goals at once. Fundamentally, it activates vacant lots in key locations, removes fire and crime hazards, and “completes” neighborhood blocks and restores them to vibrancy. At the same time, vacant lots provide an opportunity for productive new uses that improve access to food, perform environmental services, incubate local business, and build community capacity and trust.

VACANT LOT, BERGEN SQUARE NEIGHBORHOOD Vacant lots like this one, just south of the U.S. Wiggins Elementary School, accumulate debris and project an air of neglect.

HOW IT WORKS “Lots of Opportunity” is a vacancy strategy that applies many of the recommendations outlined in the Equity Agenda (Part II) to abandoned buildings and vacant parcels. Parcels will be considered for one of three uses: SHEDS, environmental use, or microrehab, described in detail in the following pages. Parcels will be selected for these uses according to a logic model that considers need, procurement frictions, cost, and community desire. All programming is meant to be iterative and inclusive, rather than prescriptive. Therefore, an initial phase of the strategy involves temporary installations designed to invite community members into vacant lots and imagine what it could become.

PAGE 91


GREEN BUFFER

OUTDOOOR LEARNING

1

U.S. Wiggins Elementary

2

The Neighborhood Center

3

Puerto Ricans for Unity

PAGE 92

S.H.E.D. & PLAZA

URBAN FARM

NEIGHBORHOOD WETLAND

MICRO-REHAB & SAFE ROUTE TO SCHOOL

7 blocks of safe routes | 4 micro-housing units | 3 business incubators | 3 blocks of green buffer | 1 urban farm | 1 urban wetland | 1 discovery space | 1 SHED

CHOOSING A PILOT LOCATION Bergen Square is a neighborhood with several vacancy clusters in close proximity to an elementary school and bordered on two sides by heavy industry. Bergen Square’s western edge abuts the Central Waterfront Industrial Corridor, nearest the Georgia Pacific Gypsum Factory. The air quality is noticeably worse than in any other residential district in Camden, partly owing to the lack of any physical separation

SELECTING THE RIGHT TRACK According to the “Lots of Opportunity” plan, suitable vacant parcels can be sent down one of three tracks: (1) the collaborate development of Strategic Hubs for Equitable Development Strategies (SHEDS); (2) assemblage into larger tracts for environmental reuse; and (3) the rehabilitation and infill of buildings in nearly complete blocks for micro-economic and temporary housing uses. Which of these three tracks is chosen depends on the level of vacancy in the block - for instance, empty properties in largely vacant blocks will be hard to activate for community use. Instead, they are best incorporated into a larger strategy of urban agriculture, reforestation, or other green infrastructure systems.

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

Broadway

St r eet on Ne wt

Atlantic Ave

on

Str eet

Broadway

Line Street

wt

Located in the center of Bergen Square, U.S. Wiggins Elementary School is an anchor for the community. Bergen’s vacancy strategy should leverage this anchor by providing safe and welcoming spaces for school and after-school activity. It should harness the creativity of students and dedication of parents. The most recent performance rating at U.S. Wiggins indicates that it is making progress. By creating a network of spaces that support families, school performance can continue to rise.

RESIDENTIAL

EXISTING ORGANIZATIONS CHURCH SCHOOL/ DAYCARE SOCIAL SERVICE

Atlantic Ave Line Street

Broadway

Broa

dwa

y St

.

2

Bergen Square thus makes an ideal site for a pilot vacancy strategy. The study area is a rough rectangle marked by Line Street to the north, Sixth Street to the east, Atlantic to the south, and Locust to the west.

INDUSTRIAL COMMERCIAL

Ne

1

As discussed previously, a thoughtful vacant strategy must consider the assets already inherent to the target neighborhood. Bordered at the East by I-676 and to the North by Lanning Square, Bergen Square is barely a mile from Cooper Hospital and Downtown Camden. Visible streetscaping improvements in Lanning Square south of the Rutgers campus indicate the economic revival in that area of the city. A vacancy strategy can amplify the effects of this revitalization.

ZONING

PERCENT OF BLOCK VACANT

The Camden Collaborative Initiative organized by the CCMUA is another key partner in the implementation of the vacancy strategy. The Initiative is dedicated to improving environmental quality in Camden. The organization’s extensive list of vendors (reported 2016) is evidence of

tre et

3

Further, the neighborhood is considered, “low—income, low—access,” a designation established by the USDA to characterize areas in which most of the population is low income in a declared food desert. Bergen’s lack of services more generally is very evident. What were once dense commercial corridors are now crowded with buildings that are empty or serving as warehouses.

ASSETS & PARTNERSHIPS

on S

Central Waterfront

IDENTIFYING VACANT PARCELS The first step in any vacancy strategy is necessarily to inventory vacant and abandoned parcels. In Camden, vacant lots are so plentiful that an efficient strategy can focus on clusters of vacant properties with few acquisition restrictions. Once these clusters are identified, the next step is to map their access to basic services like child care, groceries, primary care, and designated community space. Next, a more in-depth survey of the network of community organizations in the area is called for. This reveals potential partners for implementation and oversight. The final step to selecting vacancies for remediation and programming is a walk-through of the area to determine opportunities and constraints at the ground-level. For example, the walkthrough should determine the integrity of the soil, tthe condition of the lot, and the level of pre-development necessary.

Line Street

wt

LOGIC MODEL FOR SITE SELECTION

Central Business District

a

Del

between the industrial zone and residences. Factories and houses face each other across Locust Street.

Ne

ver e Ri r a w

0% 1-15% 16-25% 26-50% 51-100%

Atlantic Ave

PAGE 93


LOT ACTIVATION

URBAN ECOLOGY WORKSHOP

This vacant lot in Philadelphia has been repurposed for community use, with minimal improvement. Photo by Steve Weinek for Playgrounds of Useful Knowledge.

SCHOOLYARD MOVIE THEATER

Vacant lots are often most threatening at night. Community movie screenings are low-cost form of activation. Photo by the North Missoula CDC.

PAGE 94

expertise; it also suggests a wide network of groups that can provide services required to complete “Lots of Opportunity” environmental reuse components. Another potential partner, the Center for Environmental Transformation, is located just south of Bergen Square. It manages two orchards, a native plant nursery, a modern greenhouse, and two educational vegetable gardens. In addition, CFET has experience engaging Camden youth in urban gardening and cooking through its Eco-Interns and its SEEDs pre-K programs. Two major community organizations in Bergen Square will be key to designing, maintaining, and programming spaces for community use. The first is the Neighborhood Center, which fights poverty through arts programming, nutrition classes, tutoring, and after-school athletics. The second is the Puerto Rican Unity for Progress. PRUP hosts many community events, such as Back-to-School Day, when it distributes book bags and school supplies. PRUP also organizes community clean-ups and transforms vacant lots into rain gardens.

SHEDS: COMMUNITY USE COMMUNITY SPACE “Shared Hubs for Equitable Development Strategies” (SHEDS), is this plan’s recommendation to develop community anchors that encourage civic participation through workshopping, vocational training,

appliance rental, voter registration, financial planning, home weatherization, and civil rights advocacy. In its full capacity, SHEDS is intended to curate the leadership necessary for responsible stewardship and oversight. SHEDS participation in other programming put forward in this plan is highly encouraged. This plan is designed to help reduce Camden’s 12 percent unemployment rate to a level in-line with the state’s average of 6 percent. SHEDS, for example, will provide a lawnmower or garden hose for loan to maintain your yard. If you need help applying for the city’s new home loan program, pamphlets and financial counseling will be available at the SHEDS. The SHEDS program relies on community staples like Puerto Rican Unity for Progress and Neighborhood Center, which are already deeply invested in Bergen. Optimistically, the process acquire and rehabilitate vacant structures for use as SHEDS would take no more than two years. LOT ACTIVATOR Engaging the community with welcoming open space that offers a variety of recreational uses, is a way to encourage civic participation and trust. Bergen’s vacancy strategy recommends a Lot Activator adjacent to the Neighborhood Center, on the Northwest corner of Kaighn & Fourth.

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

DISCOVERY SPACE The need for afterschool programming is evidenced by the lack of childcare services and the high rate of single—parent households, and is additionally supported by a high school non-completion rate of 30 percent. Opportunities to learn beyond the classroom, particularly in the developmental stage of childhood and adolescence, is limited for those without the support of a structured after—school environment. “Lots of Opportunity,” recommends a program affiliated with U.S. Wiggins Elementary School to provide after-class activity for school-aged children. The plan offers guidance on “Discovery Space,” which promotes learning beyond the classroom at a vacant parcel adjacent to U.S. Wiggins. The property identified by this plan is located directly across the street from U.S. Wiggins and will build on its after-school activities by partnering with current STEM and Environment-related programs. Discovery Space is visioned as an opportunity for children to get outdoors.

ECO-UPDATE: ENVIRONMENTAL USE GREEN BUFFER The eastern-edge of Bergen Square is bordered by the Waterfront South industrial corridor. Trucking and industrial

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

discharge contribute to poor air quality in the neighborhood. Bergen’s “Lots of Opportunity,” strategy thus recommends a Green Buffer extending from the corner of Atlantic and Locust north to Line Street. Trees and other vegetation will help filter some of the particulates produced by industrial facilities, port, and truck routes. This plan will leverage the network of expert organizations already created by the Camden Collaborative Initiative (CCI). The Green Buffer initiative is intended to be the cornerstone of a larger “systems” approach to alleviating Camden’s environmental burden; eventually, green infrastructure should thread throughout the city. URBAN FARM In Camden, nearly 60 percent of residents qualify for supplemental nutrition assistance. Bergen Square is particularly affected by issues of food insecurity. According to the USDA, a significant share of Bergen residents are low income and live more than 1 mile from the nearest supermarket. To address the deficiency, this plan recommends soil remediation and intensive food production on the block located at the Southwestern corner of Kaighn & Broadway. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that Camden can produce about 0.5 pounds of mixed produce per square foot of land, with a optimal garden area of 400’ x 100’. Intensive gardening in Camden therefore promises a sizeable yield. Still, it

requires dedicated labor, responsible land stewardship, and efficient distribution to be sustainable. If executed properly, local food production on the garden scale will go a long way towards reducing the food gap. URBAN WETLAND Besides being one of the most important forms of habitat, wetlands are ideal for passive recreation, wildlife observation, flood mitigation, and carbon sequestration. Constructed wetlands are even effective as a form of remediation for contaminated land. A wetland project for Bergen Square is recommended for the triangle inside Newton, Broadway, and Kaighn Avenue. A wetland boardwalk in this location will help create a safe corridor to school from the south and encourage walking and other outdoor activity. Wetlands are networkdependent; a string of wetlands create biodiversity corridors. The vacancy strategy therefore also recommends future efforts to locate additional parcels that will build out the wetland network. SAFE ROUTE TO SCHOOL Corridor, crosswalk, and lighting improvements can amplify the effects of vacant lot activation in creating safe routes to school. Reviving empty buildings puts additional “eyes on the street” and creates the community capacity to safeguard children on their way to school. Streetlamps, sidewalk improvements, crosswalks with appropriate signage, and volunteer safety personnel posted during the student

PAGE 95


commute will enhance this improvement. This plan identifies potential “Safe-Route” corridors along Broadway, Newton, and Fourth Street. These roads seem the most natural route for students who walk or bike to school from points north and south.

RE-CONOMY: MICRO-REHAB AND INFILL LIVE-WORK INFILL The equity plan includes a program to address the housing needs of Bergen Square’s most at-risk residents. The strategy is based on a “Complete Blocks” strategy that combines the personal and professional needs of families whose home is in need of extensive repair or remediation from lead paint and asbestos. The first of such locations is suggested for the Southwestern block of Cherry & Fourth. The success of this program may lead to additional locations within Bergen Square. This strategy recommends creating a new “Grow Neighborhoods” tax credit initiative, similar to the Grow NJ tax credit program, but focused on rehabilitating salvageable homes in nearly “complete” blocks (blocks with little to no vacancy) as live-work units. Adding storefronts at the ground-level to incubate start-ups will help generate income for Bergen residents and fill the service gap. Residents on blocks with close to 100-percent vacancy would have the option to voluntarily move to the new housing. New

PAGE 96

live-work units would be used as temporary shelter for families whose homes are being remediated for lead, or who have been evicted or foreclosed upon. The Camden Construction Career Initiative would be the main partner in this venture by helping to train and employ local residents in rehabilitation work. A two-stage implementation process is suggested for this strategy. The first stage involves short term activation of vacant parcels using shipping containers for businesses to hold quick pop-up events providing those goods and services currently lacking in Bergen. The second stage involves the acquisition of land and homes for rehabilitation, and will take place over a ten-year period.

EQUITABLE OUTCOMES Equitable outcomes generated as a result of this plan include (1) protecting homes from harmful air particulates by buffering industrial edges, (2) ensuring all residents have the opportunity to move, if their house is deemed uninhabitable, (3) providing new community space as a venue for activity, (4) programming large vacant lots for productive, yet non-polluting use, (5) ensuring that schools are able to participate in the benefits of open space.

Persistent inequity in the distribution of the city’s resources has had visible consequences. Depite reviving investment, most residents remain impoverished, unhealthy, and deprived of educational opportunity. Too often, resources are given to parties who have only an incidental interest in the wellbeing of residents. As a result, millions of dollars in tax abatements have produced neither employment opportunities nor much-needed businesses to serve the local community. The potential to realize a better outcome depends on whether the city chooses to rethink its priorities in favor of residents. Improving their lives requires investment at the block level. The key to such investment is placing the people whose neighborhoods are at stake at the center of an equity plan. Camden’s vacant land, combined with its network of community partners, presents an opportunity to grow neighborhood spending power and simultaneously fill retail service gaps. Small business start-ups will recycle money through the community. At the same time, environmental and community reuse will transform desolate lots into a source of community pride and cohesion. Each lot development is considered in the context of resident needs and community capacity. As such, the strategy will naturally reflect (and strengthen) the identity of individual neighborhoods, encourage local participation, and cultivate of leadership.

CAMDEN EQUITY | FOCAL PLAN

OBJ. A—1

COST COST

TERM

CFP, Planning Office, Nbrhd Orgs CFP, Planning Office, Nbrhd Orgs NJ State, Government Government

$ $ $ $$$

Short Med Med Long

1.1 Use body cameras judiciously 2.1 Include police in new community-building efforts 3.1 Bring back the Camden City Police 3.2 Mandate local hiring

CCPD, NAACP NJ, LLA NJ, PRUP CCPD, SHEDS Rutgers Uni, Cooper Union, CCPD, PENN Government, CCPD

$$ $$ $ $

Short Short Long Long

1.1 Catalog and convey lots to communities 1.2 Establish SHEDS 1.3 Customize SHEDS 1.4 Harness SHEDS to address food insecurity

CRA, Youth League, Rutgers University Government, Community Leaders, CDCs Community Government, Local Farmers, Community

$$$ $$ $ $$

Med Med Med Long

Government

Government, CFP Government

$ $ $$ $

Long Short Short Med

Dept. of Vital Statistics, Azavea Government Government

$$ $ $

Med Long Med

CFP, Parkside Business & Cmmty. Partnership

$ $$ $$

Short Med Med

STRATEGY STRATEGY

A

CONNECTIVE PLACEMAKING

B

POLICING

C

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

A

FISCAL HEALTH & INVESTMENT

1.1 Identify shovel-ready projects in neiborhood plans 1.2 Draft neighborhood-level street design guidelines 2.1 Make capital improvements 2.2 Honor the Complete Streets Resolution

1.1 Institute a new CBA ordinance 1.2 Establish design guidelines for large developments 1.3 Geographically target federal monies 1.4 Implement participatory budgeting

B

GOVERNANCE

C

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

1.1 Revamp the City’s digital platforms 1.2 Introduce term limits for ward council positions 1.3 Create a new city administrator position 1.1 Create a formal network of block captains 1.2 Move local elections to the weekend 1.3 Collect data on resident satisfaction

CAMDEN EQUITY | APPENDIX

ACTOR & PARTNERS ACTOR & PARTNERS

Dept. of Vital Statistics, Bureau of Grant Mgmt, TRF

County, CDCs, CFP Government

PAGE 97


OBJ.

STRATEGY

D

MUNICIPAL SERVICES

A

SCHOOL GOVERNANCE

1.1 Digitally monitor municipal services 1.2 Use SHEDS for lot cleanup

COST

ACTOR & PARTNERS

CFP, Azavea Camden Collaborative, Government, CFP

1.0 Increase student & stakeholder involvement Government 2.0 Ensure Teachers are Representative of the Student Population Dept. of Vital Statistics, Bureau of Grant Mgmt, TRF Government, CFP 3.0 Encourage Cooperation Among Public & Private Schools 4.0 Mandate Equity Oversight and Transparency

B

Dept. of Vital Statistics, Azavea Government Government

$$ $ $

Med Long Med

CFP, Parkside Business & Cmmty. Partnership

$ $$ $$ $$

Short Med Med Med

County, CDCs, CFP Government County, CDCs, CFP

HOLISTIC LEARNING

1.0 Adopt a Place-based Approach to Education 2.0 Prepare Students for Life Outside of the Classroom

PAGE 98

Long Short Short Med

SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

1.0 Empower Schools to Activate Vacant Lots 2.0 Make Schools Accessible to All Students 3.0 Increase Access to non-Traditional Learning Spaces 4.0 Make Schools Safe for All Students

D

$ $ $$ $

Med Short

ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE

1.0 Encourage Early Literacy Programs 2.0 Encourage Summer Education Programs 3.0 Promote Meaningful Academic Evaluation

C

$$ $$

TERM TERM

Camden Collaborative, Government, CFP CFP, Azavea

$$ $$

A

RESIDENT FINANCIAL SKILLS

CAMDEN EQUITY | APPENDIX

TERM

$ $ $

Long Short Short

B

COMMERCIAL CORRIDORS

Dept. of Vital Statistics, Azavea Government Government

$$ $ $

Med Long Med

C

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

CFP, Parkside Business & Cmmty. Partnership

County, CDCs, CFP Government

$ $$ $$

Short Med Med

Camden Collaborative, Government, CFP

$$

Short

Government Government

Dept. of Vital Statistics, Bureau of Grant Mgmt, TRF

$ $ $$

Short Med Med

Dept. of Vital Statistics, Azavea

$$

Med

Camden Collaborative, Government, CFP CFP, Azavea

$$ $$

Short Med

Government 1.0 Improve Financial Literacy of Residents 2.0 Foster Entrepreneurship Among Underrepresented Groups Government Dept. of Vital Statistics, Bureau of Grant Mgmt, TRF 3.0 Connect Residents to Financial Resources 1.0 Increase Neighborhood Economic Activity 2.0 Nurture and Amplify Small Business Development 3.0 Encourage Local Small Business Leadership

1.0 Expand The “Corporate Training Institute” 2.0 Create a Workforce Development Program 3.0 Help Develop “Hard to Employ” Groups

D

INSTITUTIONAL STEWARDSHIP

A

AFFORDABILITY & LIVABILITY

1.0 Focus on Job Placement of “Hard to Employ” Groups

1.0 Improve Efficiency to Achieve Equitable Outcomes 2.0 Improve Safety of Current Housing Stock 3.0 Lower the Housing Cost Burden

B

HOMEOWNERSHIP

C

TENURE STABILITY

1.0 Improve Tenure Stability Short Med

COST

ACTOR & PARTNERS

STRATEGY

1.0 Safeguard Against Predatory Lending and Foreclosure 2.0 Protect Vulnerable Groups

CAMDEN EQUITY | APPENDIX

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OBJ.

D

STRATEGY

RIGHT-SIZING

1.0 Encourage Migration Toward Areas of Greater Access 2.0 Implement Strategic Programming on Vacant Lots 3.0 Adapt Housing Design to Fit the Needs of the Population

A

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

1.0 Increase student participation in afterschool recreation 2.0 Partner with Local Fitness Industry 3.0 Petition City for Tenure Rights of Vacant Parcels 4.0 Hold Design-Build competitions for open space improvement

B

FOOD SECURITY

1.0 Expand Camden Food Security Advisory Board 2.0 Identify Suitable Land Stewards for Local Food Production 3.0 Beta-Test Highest Needs CSA Program

C

AIR & WATER QUALITY

1.0 Install Air Quality Monitors / Evaluate Truck Route Efficiency 1.0 Emissions Overhaul of School Bus Fleet 2.0 Remove Lead Contamination from CCSD Water Supply

D

HEALTH SERVICES

1.0 Boost Data Collection & Data Banking of Health Records 2.0 Establish Primary Care in Every Camden School 2.0 Utilize SHEDS Initiative to Host Primary Care Check-ups 2.0 Improve Point-of-Contact ESL & Bi-Lingual Services

COST

ACTOR & PARTNERS

TERM

County, CDCs, CFP Government

$ $$ $$

Short Med Med

Office of the Mayor, CCSD, SPARK RWJF, FiP, CCHCP, Local Entrepreneurs Camden Redevelop Agency, Cooper’s Ferry Cooper’s Ferry, CRA, inhabitat

$ $ $$ $

Long Short Short Med

CFP, Parkside Business & Cmmty. Partnership

CFSAB, Local Food Purveyors, CSF SHEDS, Community Members, RAH RAH, CSA, Community Members, FiP

NJDEP, SJPC, SJTA NJDEP, CCSD CCSD, Jersey Water Works, CCSD, EPA

CCHCP, Office of the Mayor

Rutgers & UPenn School of Nursing, CCSD SHEDS, Cooper Hospital, Rutgers, UPenn CCHCP, Office of the Mayor

$$ $ $$

$$ $$$ $$$

$$ $$ $ $

Short Short Med

Short Long Long

Short Long Med Med

A—2

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CAMDEN EQUITY | APPENDIX

Profile for Gabriella A. Nelson

Camden: An Equity Agenda  

This is an equity plan for Camden, NJ and served as the final product of a city planning studio at the University of Pennsylvania in Spring...

Camden: An Equity Agenda  

This is an equity plan for Camden, NJ and served as the final product of a city planning studio at the University of Pennsylvania in Spring...

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