“Bandos, Symbolism, and Placemaking in Camden, NJ”
Thursday, March 25, 2021 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
In her forthcoming book Toward Camden, Mercy Romero writes about the relationships that make and sustain the largely African American and Puerto Rican Cramer Hill neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey where she grew up. She walks the city and writes outdoors to think about the collapse and transformation of property. She revisits lost and empty houses—her family’s house, the Walt Whitman House, and the landscape of a vacant lot. Throughout, Romero engages with the aesthetics of fragment and ruin; her writing juts against idioms of redevelopment. She resists narratives of the city that are inextricable from crime and decline and witnesses everyday lives lived at the intersection of spatial and Puerto Rican diasporic memory.
Toward Camden travels between what official reports say and what the city’s vacant lots withhold. In this virtual roundtable, Mercy Romero, Ph.D. was joined by Vedra Chandler, Rev. PJ Craig, and Sis. Anetha Ann Perry to talk about landscape, dispossession, and the making of public memory in Camden, New Jersey.
Mercy Romero, Ph.D. Associate Professor of American Literature and American Studies, Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University, CA Author of Toward Camden (Black Outdoors: Innovations in the Poetics of Study). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press (release date 10/15/21).
Rev. PJ Craig Sr. Pastor, Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Germantown, TN Ph.D. candidate in Public Affairs at Rutgers–Camden. PJ’s work focuses on youth connections with place. In her current project, she worked alongside youth as co-researchers in North Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ to understand how youth shape stories about their neighborhoods and themselves.
Vedra Chandler (pronouns: she/her) Project Manager, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. Born and raised in Camden, Vedra Chandler graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government before pursuing a careers in business, music and now community development and creative placemaking. Since 2017 Vedra has worked as a project manager at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership where she uses the arts as a vehicle to tap into the potential of Camden city and its residents. She coordinates the Connect the Lots and A New View initiatives which revitalize underutilized spaces with vibrant programming and public art.
Moderator: Sis. Anetha Ann Perry Ph.D. candidate in Public Affairs at Rutgers–Camden. Sis. Anetha Ann Perry grew up in Camden. In her dissertation research she uses auto-ethnography to tell the story of her family’s home, Perry House, and investigates the uses of “good neighboring” as an African American survival strategy. Despite evolving societal dynamics, Anetha’s study purports to show how settlement houses such as Perry House practice “good neighboring” as part of a modern-day underground railroad support system to African Americans living in urban fragmented communities.
“Community-based approaches to creating sustainable affordable housing”
Thursday, January 28th 12:30pm – 1:30pm via Zoom.
This virtual roundtable we discussed housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and shared equity housing models as viable alternative approaches to creating sustainable affordable housing and building community wealth. Non-market strategies have proliferated over recent years as many lower-income communities, especially in “hot” real estate markets like NYC, experience rising housing cost, fewer affordable housing options, and long-term housing insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a brighter light on the chronic and dire state of housing insecurity in the US as millions of lower-income households are facing evictions and potential homelessness. In this virtual roundtable, our panelists shared their insights on the processes of creating affordable housing collectives, and discussed the role of public policy, community organizing, and housing advocacy in the quest for fair housing.
Judy Meima works with tenant groups and cooperatives as an independent consultant. She previously worked at the D.C. nonprofit Mi Casa Inc. and served as the manager of the organization’s TOPA program. In a recently published article in Shelterforce, she shares lessons from 20 years of enabling tenants to buy their buildings.
Ruoniu (Vince) Wang is research manager at Grounded Solutions where he focuses on evaluating affordable housing policies and programs, geography of inequality, and residential mobility. He has recently co-authored a report with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that presents the most comprehensive study of shared equity housing programs conducted to date.
The 1968 Fair Housing Act contained the notorious Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) provision to put an end to housing discrimination and hold cities, counties, and states accountable to that charge. However, the Trump administration has recently repealed the rule as part of a broader deregulation push, warning suburbanites that Democrats want to “eliminate single-family zoning, bringing who knows into your suburbs, so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down.” In this event, experts will address recent attacks on AFFH, critically examine its efficacy & (missed) potential after it was resuscitated by the Obama administration, as well as discuss ways in which its implementation could be improved.
Staci Berger is the President and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. Staci Berger directs this statewide association of over 150 community-based development organizations, created in 1989 to enhance the efforts of these groups to create affordable housing and revitalize their communities, and to improve the climate for community development in New Jersey. Before becoming the President and CEO, Staci served as the Director of Advocacy & Policy. In this role she was responsible for leading the community development policy staff team, including working with the Policy Coordinator and field organizers, to broaden and mobilize support for the Network’s public policy agenda.
Katherine O’Regan is Professor of Public Policy and Planning at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where she also serves as a faculty director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. From April 2014-January, 2017, she served in the Obama Administration as an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In that role, she was part of the cross-HUD leadership team that worked on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, and the supporting data tool. Her primary research interests are at the intersection of poverty and space –the conditions and fortunes of poor neighborhoods and their residents, and how space and segregation may affect opportunities for those most disadvantaged.
Additional panelists include local public officials who have been involved with the AFFH process. (TBD)
Paul Jargowsky, Director, CURE, Prof of Public Policy, Rutgers University Camden whose work has examined the role of exclusionary land use regulations by suburban jurisdictions in contributing to racial and economic segregation.
The discussion will be followed by a moderated audience q&a. This event is free to the public, registration is required.
The murder of George Floyd precipitated widespread national and international outrage and protests, and reignited the Black Lives Matter movement in a significant way. People from all walks of life have joined the protests in solidarity with People of Color, to demand justice, an end to police violence, the abolition of unjust and unfair police practices (such as the use of excessive force and racial profiling), defunding and/or reforming the police.
This webinar will feature a panel discussion of experts on the current national state of police and policing, police reform, and a local/regional perspective.
The webinar will be moderated and offer time for online audience Q&A.
Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State
Presented by Samuel Stein Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Center, CUNY
Friday, November 15 12:15 – 1:30 p.m. 3rd Floor Faculty Lounge, Armitage Hall Rutgers–Camden Free and open to the public Lunch provided
Our cities are changing. Around the world, more and more money is being invested in buildings and land. Real estate is now a $217 trillion dollar industry, worth thirty-six times the value of all the gold ever mined. It forms sixty percent of global assets, and one of the most powerful people in the world—the president of the United States—made his name as a landlord and developer. In his book Capital City, Samuel Stein shows that this explosive transformation of urban life and politics has been driven not only by the tastes of wealthy newcomers, but by the state-led process of urban planning. Planning agencies provide a unique window into the ways the state uses and is used by capital, and the means by which urban renovations are translated into rising real estate values and rising rents.Capital City explains the role of planners in the real estate state, as well as the remarkable power of planning to reclaim urban life. In this talk, Stein will summarize the main arguments in his book, and lead a discussion about the ways planners and activists alike can chart an alternative pathway forward.
About Samual Stein:
Samuel Stein is a geography PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center. His work focuses on the politics of urban planning, with an emphasis on housing, labor, real estate, and gentrification in New York City. His writing has been published by The Journal of Urban Affairs, International Planning Studies, New Labor Forum, Metropolitics, and many other magazines and journals. In 2019, Verso published his first book, Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State.