Trenton’s Homesteading Pilot Program Looks To Help First Time Homebuyers and Attract Non-Residents.

A abandoned house located on Bridge St. in South Trenton, taken in 2012, by photojournalist/ reporter Delonte Harrod
A abandoned house located on Bridge St. in South Trenton, taken in 2012, by photojournalist/ reporter Delonte Harrod

The city of Trenton is hosting a Homesteading Homebuyers’ Workshop for first time home purchasers and non-residents who are interested in helping Trenton in its effort to beautify the city and to make it a place where people want to live.

According to a press release published on the city’s website, www.trentonnj.org, the Homesteading Homebuyers’ Workshop will be at City Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30. Michael Walker, Public Information Officer, said one of the objectives is to connect and inform participants about “renovation mortgage.” Qualified participants will receive a U.S. Federal Housing Administration loan called 203K, which will be issued through M&T Bank for the purpose of renovating a vacant property. M&T Bank representatives will attend the workshop to answer any questions about the loan, according to the press release.

“Our goal is to entice new homebuyers with the prospect of owning a quality home in the city by connecting them with a lender that will facilitate from home rehabilitation,” said Mayor Jackson, according to the press release. “Providing eligible homebuyers with information and a renovation mortgage loan source will add horsepower to our efforts to eliminate blight in Trenton.”

In a short phone conversation, Walker stressed numerous times that this workshop isn’t open to the public. The event is for those who’ve registered to attend through the restoringtrenton.org website and those who meet the qualifications.

These qualifications include: being a first time home buyer and a non-resident who would like to relocate to Trenton. Also, those interested have to agree to rehab the property within 18 months, it must be their primary home; participants must inhabit the home for a minimum of 10 years and demonstrate that they have the “financial capacity” to rehabilitate the properties within the required 18 month time frame.

The Jackson administration first introduced the Homesteading Pilot Program last year. It is a part of a bigger strategy called the Five-Point Plan. The Homesteading Program is part two of the Five- Point Plan. The plan was created to target “vacant and abandoned properties,” according to restoringtrenton.org. The goals are to stabilize and repair properties in order “to ensure that the properties are maintained properly while vacant and to get properties back on the tax rolls by transferring them to responsible owners and investors.”

Trenton has a cumulative 5,963 vacant properties. Of those vacant properties, 3,566 of them are fully vacant buildings and of those 339 are owned by the city, 2,397 are vacant lots and of those 921 are owned by the city, according to data from Isles Inc.

Data can be found at restoringtrenton.org. This data nor the graphic was composed by Delonte Harrod
Data can be found at restoringtrenton.org.  *This data nor the graphic was compiled or created by Delonte Harrod

The goal of the program isn’t only to rehabilitate vacant or abandoned properties. This incentive program also serves as a tool to attract people who would like to move into the city and to give people who rent the option to buy and rehabilitate their first home. “The Homesteading Pilot is not targeted to investors—it is aimed at giving committed residents a long-term stake in our neighborhood,” reads a section from the plan.

A market study conducted last fall in 2014 by Larisa Ortiz and Associates, a firm that conducts market analysis for cities and towns looking to revitalize neighborhoods, shows that Trenton has been losing residents. In 2000, Trenton had 85,403 residents, but by 2010 the city’s population had declined to 84,913 and by 2015 there was a slight climb again to 85,024.

In addition Trenton250, a website produced by Trenton’s Department Of Housing and Economic Development, used data from the US Census to show that only 42 percent of Trenton homes are “owner-occupied” while 58 percent “renter-occupied.” Another set of data, also compiled by Trenton250, shows that most homeowners live in the outskirts of the city (in neighborhoods such as Hiltonia, Vila Park, Top Road, the Island, Glenn Afton, Parkside and around Caldwalader Park), while those who rent live mostly in neighborhoods in and around downtown.

Data and graphics were conducted by Trenton250. From website: U.S. Census 5-year Estimate American Community Survey 2007 – 2011, New Jersey department of environmental protection, City of Trenton, Division of Planning Homeownership rates are highest in the neighborhoods of Hiltonia, Hillcrest, and Villa Park. Neighborhoods closer to the center and downtown districts of the city have lower homeownership rates. Larger rental percentages are common across much of the city.
Data and graphics were conducted by Trenton250.
* From website: U.S. Census 5-year Estimate American Community Survey 2007 – 2011, New Jersey department of environmental protection, City of Trenton, Division of Planning
Homeownership rates are highest in the neighborhoods of Hiltonia, Hillcrest, and Villa Park. Neighborhoods closer to the center and downtown districts of the city have lower homeownership rates. Larger rental percentages are common across much of the city.

Registering for this event is easy. Go to www.restoringtrenton.org and follow the instructions.

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