Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 31
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
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Borough Hall Warm to Housing Affordability but Balks at Plan to Create New Agency

Matthew Hersh

Members of Borough Council last Tuesday did not dispute the fact that Princeton has become less affordable to certain demographics in recent decades, but held off on endorsing a proposal that would retool an existing not-for-profit agency with the aim of exploring various mechanisms to make the Borough more financially viable to a wider demographic.

Council did not disagree with the mission of the plan, delivered by the chair of the Borough's Affordable Housing Board, David Schrayer, but claimed that the existing agency, the Princeton Borough Non-Profit Housing and Redevelopment Corp., did not necessarily need a new charter prior to the delivery of an affordable housing report conducted by a consultant for the housing agency, Princeton Community Housing.

That report, conducted by independent housing consultant Vito Gallo, could complement Mr. Schrayer's aims in reconstituting the Housing and Redevelopment Corp., thus precluding legwork that some members of Council deemed unnecessary.

"I think we ought to wait until we get that report, figure out where this fits in to the picture Mr. Gallo is recommending, and talk about other affordable housing issues that relate to the goals being pressed here," said Councilman David Goldfarb, who added that he "fully supported" the goals outlined in the Schrayer plan.

Mr. Schrayer first appeared before Council in May, offering a bleak look at the housing options in Princeton for prospective lower- and middle-class residents. Mr. Schrayer urged the revival and retooling of an existing non-profit, the Princeton Borough Non-Profit Housing and Redevelopment Corp., aimed to achieve housing advocacy and new forms of development, arguing that a retooled not-for-profit could also act as a vehicle to secure government funds for future projects, as well as serving as a recipient for charitable donations to support municipal housing policy.

While Council did not immediately adopt his initiative, Mr. Schrayer's claims did not fall upon deaf ears. "We have a serious problem in the Borough," said Councilwoman Barbara Trelstad, "and it's not getting better."

Mayor Mildred Trotman suggested that one possibility could be to simply "tie up loose ends" in the existing not-for-profit in anticipation of the Gallo report, though she suggested that that group, which has not convened in years, should revive itself. Overall, the issue was left open-ended, with Council slated to revisit the issue following the release of the Gallo report later this summer. "Please stay tuned," Ms. Trotman said.

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