Camden, New Jersey leaders hope the down-trodden city will mimic the success of Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood. Today Camden Mayor Dana Redd and announced a new program to attract new residents.Cooper’s Ferry Partnership President Dave Foster said the “Employer Assisted Housing Initiative” shows that Cooper University Hospital, Rowan University and the Virtua health care system are committed to Camden.”The hospitals and universities of Camden are coming together and saying that they will provide up to $20,000 in funding for any of their employees who choose to purchase a home in the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Foster. “The real target here is to provide buyers for the new properties that are coming on the market.”Foster said while the program could help the city build a middle class, it’s not income-restricted and is as much for an entry level worker dreaming of home ownership, as for a middle or upper tier employee.”Our goal is 250 new homeowners through this program over the next five years and we’ve done some polling and some research among the employees of the institutions that have made us think that that number is achievable,” said Foster.Camden also is launching a new website: www.livecamden.org to provide potential homeowners with information about buying a home, available incentives, neighborhood profiles, and events in the city.
Foster said he hopes even people who don’t participate in the program, will be attracted to the city. “When you look at the story in West Philadelphia where the University of Pennsylvania unveiled a similar initiative many years ago, you saw that only a relatively small percentage of the new people moving into the neighborhood were doing so as a result of the program, others were doing it under the hope that this was a neighborhood that was on the rise,” he said.That’s a tall order for Camden which is known for its concentrated poverty and crime.Foster said participants would cut their carbon footprints by living walking distance from work.