To the Editor:
What a wonderful story about our friend Albert Hinds who enriches our lives by his presence and strength [See Town Topics, Wednesday, June 8, page 30]. Birthday congratulations, Mr. Hinds, and thank you, Jean Stratton, for a fascinating interview.
To the Editor:
Princeton Young Achievers (PYA), among other not-for-profit agencies that serve children, has lost crucial funding. Without major financial support from the community, PYA will likely have to operate fewer days or serve fewer children, and neither solution bodes well for the children or the community.
For several years, the Princeton Regional Board of Education gave us $65,000, but it cannot do so this year. This $65,000 cut represents a 25 percent of our annual budget and the loss has thrown us into crisis mode. We were told new state legislation prohibits school board districts from funding not-for-profit organizations, even those organization which are longtime partners like PYA.
Princeton is a great community, but even here, some of our children don¹t have the support they need to succeed in school. Like it or not, Princeton has an achievement gap problem as recognized by our school board, administrators, and teachers. Princeton families share high aspirations for their children and want to do all they can for them. However, not all families have the income, educational background, or even time to give adequate homework support or access to enrichment activities that most Princetonians take for granted. Not every student in the system has computers at home or a parent who reads English.
This is where PYA comes in. We are a multicultural, academically-oriented, after-school program which works to improve the academic performance of low- to moderate-income elementary school children. Our teachers and community volunteers provide homework support, one-on-one tutoring, mentoring and academic enrichment programs in each of our three community learning centers. We have data to prove that our work makes a difference.
We need your help. Please send a donation to: Princeton Young Achievers, 25 Valley Road, Princeton, N.J., 08540.
For information about volunteering your services or other questions, please contact our Executive Director, Dr. Rebecca Johnson at the above address or by phone at (609) 806-4216.
To the Editor:
In the past week, the Arts Council of Princeton hosted a groundbreaking and was the beneficiary of "Breaking Ground, Breaking Bread," a magnificent fund-raising dinner at Mediterra. On behalf of the Arts Council and its Capital Campaign Committee, I would like to thank all the organizations and individuals whose generous support made these momentous occasions possible.
The official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Paul Robeson Center for the Arts was a joyous occasion celebrated by Arts Council supporters from all walks of life. The Arts Council sincerely thanks Paul Robeson, Jr., and Michael Graves for their inspiring words; Michael Graves & Associates for donating the designs for the renovated building; groundbreaking grand sponsor N. T. Callaway Real Estate; Halo Pub and its staff; The Witherspoon St. Traveling Medicine Show for its live jazz performance; Hadley Reinert of NJ Opera Theater for her beautiful rendition of ³God Bless America²; honored guests, Norman Callaway, Jr., U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand, Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman, and Borough Council President Mildred Trotman; our outstanding volunteers; and all the Arts Council members and friends whose attendance reflected their loyal support.
"Breaking Ground, Breaking Bread" was filled with fabulous food, exquisite wine, and a vivacious air. The Arts Council would like to recognize The Terra Momo Restaurant Group for its generous donations toward this fund-raising dinner for 140. Ardent thanks to Carlo and Raoul Momo; the tremendous efforts of the Mediterra¹s chefs and wait staff, who prepared and served more than 20 delectable courses; Cindy Besselaar for commissioning the chocolate coins for all the guests; and all those present whose contributions brought the Arts Council closer to its goal of a transformed cultural center for all area residents to enjoy.
To the Editor:
Smaller homes are being torn down at a rapid pace in many suburbs, particularly Princeton, to make room for MegaMansions. Is this best use of one of our most scarce and valuable resource - land?
Who needs a six bedroom, six bath home? In fact, the January 2005 homeless count did find 15 families with more than five children living with them. But MegaMansions are not aimed at meeting that community need. Yet inclusionary zoning can allow look-alike MegaMansions to house four or more families and still preserve the flavor of the neighborhood.
Princeton Borough Mayor Joseph O¹Neill wrote a thoughtful piece on the size and costs of home construction since the end of WWII. Millions of homes were built across the country to house returning veterans and their families. They were frequently starter homes of 800 sq. ft. to 1000 sq. ft., with three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room and bath. O¹Neill points out that basic systems such as kitchen and bathroom are what account for most of housing¹s cost. It is profit that drives the excessive bedrooms and other rooms, not community needs.
Today developers are not building houses to accommodate families who already live here and fill the service jobs that make our suburban living so comfortable. But acclaimed architect Michael Graves offered a design for basic family housing at 1200 sq. ft. that he can build for $100,000.
The Mercer suburbs need to retain loyal service personnel and provide them with decent and comfortable housing. In Mercer County as a whole, 25 percent of the workforce earns less than $23,370. But even ³affordable housing² in relative abundance in Princeton, West Windsor, Lawrenceville, Hightstown, Hopewell, and Hamilton does not provide housing for any of these people. A family of three must earn $31,474 a year to qualify for ³affordable² rental housing.
Jobs that pay salaries below that range include: cashiers, teacher¹s aides, food service workers, childcare workers, home health aides, retail clerks, and lawn and cleaning service personnel. The very people we count on every day to provide a host of vital services and to take care of our children, our sick, and our elderly do not qualify for affordable low-income housing.
Many of these workers live in overcrowded shared apartments or houses, some in housing very far from their work, or some in motels, shelters or cots in church basements. It is not only their problem; it is also our problem.
Let us seize the opportunity to create workforce housing. We must consider the whole range of income needs not served by today¹s developers. Creative inclusionary zoning can allow for mixed-use housing, smaller lot starter homes, renovation of abandoned commercial, hospital and industrial property, and compact condos and town houses built to meet real working family needs.
The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness proposes that the county purchase and preserve land for workforce housing. If we can do it for open space, we can do it to reduce the cost of housing. We must also develop a new Housing Trust Fund that can combine private, public, and corporate investments to help fund truly affordable permanent homes. A two-cent increase on the county tax would produce $600,000 a year to support workforce housing. Incentives can be designed to induce businesses to donate to the new Housing Trust Fund. Individuals could increase the stock of affordable housing by donating their homes at death.
The Mercer Alliance has a vision of our county where no child or person lacks the security of a safe place to sleep, eat, and study and dream of a real future. You can make a difference; you can help us realize this dream by joining our efforts. Go to www.merceralliance.org to see how you can help us end homelessness.
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