CAMDEN, NJ — That Camden purports to be on the rise means little to Councilwoman Shaneka Boucher if the residents who populate its neighborhoods don’t advance with it.
With that and several other goals in mind, Boucher worked with real estate investor and founder of Cooper Square Acquisitions, Angad Guglani, to launch “Housing for All Camden” — a non-profit partnership focused on helping Camden residents to own a home, invest in the community and cultivate their financial futures.
The first ward, which Boucher represents, is known to comprise blighted properties - a symptom of larger issues the project aims to tackle as well.
“I’ve heard a lot from people saying that they think that there's going to be gentrification coming, that they're going to get kicked out of Camden,” Boucher told TAPinto Camden. “We want to make sure that people are going to be able to take advantage of the housing market that is here today or be prepared to buy a house when they're ready.”
The first of several virtual weekly speaker series, titled “Goal Setting & Credit Building,” will be held Thursday from 7 to 8:15 p.m. with keynote speaker Stacy Pierce, a financial wellness coach at Operation HOPE.
You can register for the free webinar by clicking here.
Pierce is expected to discuss credit building, goal setting, and how to build a foundation for homeownership. Attendees will also have the chance to have their questions answered during the virtual event.
“Stacy has worked with a lot of different organizations and people in the community to help them get their credit score up, better their financial literacy and learn about housing opportunities for a very long time,” Boucher continued. “We want people like her, that have the reputation and built-in trust with the community so people here know we’re legitimate.”
Although her time on the council has just begun, Boucher has held up housing as one of her chief priorities.
Although she could not go into detail, she expected to propose legislation in the coming months that tackle ongoing hurdles for prospective homeowners. Among those she referenced: an ambivalent process for anyone interested in investing locally, lack of centralized resources for those looking to tackle an array of property and business-related issues and clear-cut avenues for overcoming the city’s fiscal constraints.
“Something else that people in the city are very wary about is is outsiders coming in and buying up real estate,” Boucher said. “Instead, we want to equip local residents with the tools to do it themselves.”
Guglani harped on the accessibility of the series - saying residents should not be overwhelmed by taking on the process of building banking relationships, seeking resources they have a right to and laying the groundwork for owning a house.
“People want to invest in Camden. The issue now is it can be very bureaucratic and there are those working towards fixing that,” Guglani said. “But in the meantime, the private and non-profit side can work together to put something out immediately and that's why we chose to try to build some momentum to educate people.”
Bridging public and private opportunities means being flexible, the councilwoman noted, therefore the initiative is open to providing more opportunities in the future, expanding with bilingual services and working with non-profits already tackling economic hardships locally.
Other speakers in the series will include Gene Alford, owner of Sell All Properties, and Jay Hipple, owner of MGV Property Maintenance.
On the schedule: "Working with Banks" on July 16, "Working With Others Find Deals" on July 23, "Closing Your First Transaction" on July 30, and "Property Management & Construction on August 6. Speakers will be announced on the partnership’s website in the future.