Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s Land Bank plan moved forward yesterday when the Newark City Council voted to advance the agreement which establishes a Newark Land Bank and designates Invest Newark as the new entity. The land bank will enable Newark to more quickly and efficiently transform vacant and blighted properties into neighborhood assets. Today’s vote is an important milestone in Mayor Baraka’s Newark Forward Equitable Growth strategy and makes Newark’s Land Bank a model for all of New Jersey. A second vote and public hearing must take place before the Land Bank ordinance takes effect.
“The Land Bank gives us the opportunity to be very creative, imaginative and expeditious about how we deal with properties that have been blighted for decades,” said Mayor Baraka. “Instead of spending millions of dollars trying to keep properties up, we can make them a key to the revitalization of our neighborhoods.”
“This is an historic day for Newark. The Land Bank vote will be remembered as one of the most important legacies of our Mayor and Council. I want to thank Mayor Baraka for creating this opportunity for the citizens of Newark, said Council President Mildred Crump.
“Reclaiming our neighborhoods, creating homeownership opportunities and returning properties to the city’s tax base is critical to the advancement of equitable development,” said Allison Ladd, Deputy Mayor/Director of the Department of Economic and Housing Development.
“In addition to the Land Bank, the Council today also supported a ground breaking Invest Newark pilot project which, in collaboration with the Newark Housing Authority, enables Section 8 recipients to use their vouchers to become home owners. Two big achievements in one day,” said Invest Newark President and CEO Bernel Hall.
Last year, Governor Phil Murphy signed enabling legislation spearheaded by Mayor Baraka to allow the creation of land banks in New Jersey. New Jersey’s cities and towns are burdened with thousands of vacant and abandoned properties, many of which are sitting idle and pay no taxes, diminishing property values and blighting their neighborhoods. While many cities are taking steps to address this situation, they have lacked a key tool to help them gain control over the problem.
Through land banks, communities can now acquire and maintain vacant and abandoned properties in a systematic fashion, and dispose of them in ways that ensure they are redeveloped or reused for long-term community benefit. Land banks can help towns and cities assemble and restore problem properties and put them back on the tax rolls, revitalizing neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for residents and taxpayers.
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