| Program: || Two Towns: One Community, Maplewood and South Orange, NJ |
| Contact(s): || Barbara Heisler Williams, Executive Director: 1-800-CLOSE BY |
| Purpose: || To develop a strategy to promote enhanced and sustained racial balance in the community's living patterns and housing market. |
In 1996, the adjacent communities of Maplewood and South Orange, N.J., decided to address the changing racial demographics in their two towns. First, they created a study group to examine the issue. They then sought the help of outside experts to advise them on integration maintenance programs. The Maplewood/South Orange Racial Balance Task Force was created in May 1997 to achieve racial balance in the demand for housing and living patterns sustaining Maplewood and South Orange as communities of choice for everyone, regardless of race.
The Maplewood/South Orange Racial Balance Task Force has initiated an intervention of pro-integrative moves to stem racial resegregation. The task force: 1.) affirmatively markets the communities of Maplewood and South Orange in order to prevent re-segregation, 2.) promotes the inclusion of people of color in the leadership of civic and community organizations and 3.) encourages dialogue within the community on race and race-related issues. The task force fosters a brokers program in which local real estate agents support showing homes to underrepresented races. It also tests local real estate practices to ensure that there is no racial steering.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Through an on-going series of public forums, the task force has engaged the community in several discussions on race and residence. According to task force members, the housing market in the community has not only stabilized but flourished. In late 1997, they had succeeded in having one-third fewer homes on the market than in 1996. The task force has garnered widespread, community support, with 12 active committees involving hundreds of participants in its events. In October 1997, the task force formed the Community Coalition of South Orange and Maplewood to accommodate all of the volunteers who wanted to participate in the activities. The task force also maintains a Website at: www.nj.com/twotowns.