Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

WNYC Podcast: Newark Forms Commission to Fight Gentrification

"Economic growth for a lot of cities is not that difficult to do... Equitable growth is very difficult to do." Rutgers Law School CLiME Director David D. Troutt on Newark, NJ's Commission to Fight Gentrification. 

Listen to the podcast here.

 

The mayor of Newark says every city in the country has tried and failed to protect the working class and poor from being displaced from their homes when big developers sweep in.

"I don't want to say it hasn't been done, it just hasn't been successful," Mayor Ras Baraka said at Newark City Hall Thursday.

So, with development in Newark booming, the city announced it's forming a commission aimed at preventing gentrification.

"Economic growth for a lot of cities is not that difficult to do," said David Troutt, founding director of the Rutgers Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity. "Equitable growth is very difficult to do." 

Baraka approached Troutt more than year ago asking for recommendations on how to reduce displacement while attracting a middle class that could strengthen the tax-base. 

One of the main pieces of advice, Troutt said, was creating a commission of experts that made sure new development benefited residents by advising the city and serving as community liaison.

The 15-member Equitable Growth Advisory Committee is expected be formed early next year, and will be made up of members of government, academia, community organizations and private developers.

Baraka said the commission is one of many strategies aimed at curbing gentrification. Others have been copied from places like New York City, where tenants now have a right to an attorney in housing court.

2017 Rutgers University study found that, adjusted for inflation, median rents in Newark have gone up 20 percent since 2000, while median household incomes have dropped by 10 percent. And more than 20,000 households in the city are spending over half their income in rent.

Baraka said the city needs to protect its residents, but can't afford to "miss the boat" on growth. 

"We have to have some level of development, or you can't distribute wealth that you don't have," Baraka said. "So you have to bring wealth into the city and redistribute it in a way that most of us can benefit."