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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mercer's economic canyon

Mercer County, like the rest of New Jersey, is suffering from severe economic and housing segregation and the problem is only going to get worse without some drastic action that provides work and housing evenly throughout the county, according to a study covered in The Times of Trenton Saturday.

The study, put out by the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, found that Mercer’s housing and wealth breakdown indicated that the future of the county was one of poverty for Trenton and the adjacent areas of communities like Lawrence, Ewing, and Hamilton.

But the outer-ring communities like Princeton, Hopewell, and other rich Mercer County municipalities are set to remain as places where little of the lower and middle class workforce occupying crucial service jobs will ever be able to live.

Like The Ruins of Trenton has detailed, Mercer County and the rest of New Jersey cannot continue on in this highly segregated existence, which inevitably results in reduced opportunities and little hope for the super-diverse pool of workers that makes up the backbone of the county’s economy.

Mercer County must embrace new, more stringent Council on Affordable Housing regulations and modified state housing law. Together, they impose greater workforce housing requirements on municipalities and eliminate the ability of wealthy suburbs to sell off their constitutionally mandated affordable housing obligations.

America is supposed to be a land dedicated to opportunity.

But sequestering affordable housing opportunities within the state capital and the surrounding areas results in the hoarding of economic and social resources in the richer, outlying towns of Mercer and the subjection of the neediest people in the inner, Trenton-dominated area to the most adverse and difficult of situations.

On top of this social wrongdoing, the economic and social chaos that ensues creates conditions that are strongly adverse to homeowners, businesses, and industry within Trenton and the rest of the urban core.

The resulting situation saps municipal tax revenue and requires ever-larger state-funded subsidies that only serve to worsen the fiscal burden on New Jersey's overtaxed residents.

It is nothing, if not a lose-lose situation for everyone in the Capital County.

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