December 14, 2022

Forum Focuses on Providing Equitable, Affordable Housing to NJ Residents

To the Editor:

There was a gratifying turnout of nearly 100 at the December 10 Housing Justice Forum held at the Princeton Public Library (Town Topics Calendar, December 7). Attendees peppered knowledgeable panelists for solutions to the problem of providing equitable and affordable housing to the state’s residents. The event was co-sponsored by the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs in New Jersey with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Library’s Kim Dorman efficiently organized the event.

The panelists addressed discrimination in rents, sales, and purchases of housing resulting from the Jim Crow legacy and how zoning and onerous regulations were impeding construction of affordable housing. One of the speakers highlighted a past housing initiative success which could be used as a future template in addressing this issue. When George Romney became secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1968, he pressured predominately white communities into building more affordable housing and ending discriminatory zoning practices. He ordered HUD officials to reject applications for water, sewer, and highway projects from cities and states where local policies fostered segregated housing and dubbed his initiative “Open Communities.” Unfortunately, the initiative was scuttled by the politics of the day and resistance at the local level.

Linda Sipprelle
Commissioner, Princeton Housing Authority
Victoria Mews