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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Trenton to Hopewell: Keep Your Affordable Housing

The city administration told Hopewell that they can keep their affordable housing obligations, rejecting a $3.5 million regional contribution agreement that would have had Trenton pick up even more of Mercer County's wealthy municipalities affordable obligations.

At a news conference Tuesday, Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer said the move was made because of the pending move of the Capital Health Systems Hospital, which will carry significant affordable housing due to state law.

This does represent a change of direction for Trenton, which has had a history of accepting RCA's from the more affluent townships surrounding the city in the Mercer County and beyond.

Some say that these agreements, which have had the effect of concentrating much of Mercer County's low-income population within the city, has led to urban decay in many of the city neighborhoods, and contributed to economic downturn.

Mayor Palmer said the move wasn't designed to screw over Hopewell Township because of the fact that the CHS Hospital, formerly located within Trenton, will be moving there.

"It's reality," he said. "They will need to build affordable housing with 1,500 jobs moving with the hospital.

"Quite frankly, they're going to need it."

This could be a step in the right direction for Trenton, which has an undesirable renter to owner-occupied ratio and many neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and a dismal crime rate.

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