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Rca Funds Warmly Accepted Gloucester City Residents Are Pleased, But Critics Say The Transfers Violate An Affordable-housing Mandate.

CNBNEWS.NET Editor's Note:  Every so often the topic in the comments section of this page switch over to RCA's monies and how that program has ruin the housing market in Gloucester City. Looking back on the www we found the article below, written in 1998 by Gaiutra Bahadur, of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The article explains how the monies were used in Gloucester City and Camden City 13 years ago. 

 November 11, 1998|By Gaiutra Bahadur, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF


To critics, RCAs, or ``regional contribution agreements,'' are coy cop-outs for affluent suburbs that don't want to meet their state Supreme Court-mandated affordable-housing requirements.

But to Karen Elder, 36, a mother of three teenage girls, they are a gift.

Last year, Elder and her husband, Laurence, bought a three-story brick house in Gloucester City for $70,000. It is their first home, and - like much of this town of tightly clustered rowhouses, bungalows and single A-frames - it was built nearly 75 years ago.  The original electric work is in, and as soon as I plug in the microwave, the coffeepot and the dryer . . .,'' Elder said, shrugging to indicate the cataclysm that inevitably follows.

Through RCAs, a tool that allows towns to sell half of their obligations for low- and moderate-income housing, Elder's home will be rewired and its rotting roof replaced.

Elder's is one of 89 properties in Gloucester City that will be renovated and brought up to code with RCA funds, starting this fall. Evesham Township is paying the town $1.04 million, and Washington Township signed a deal in July to transfer $740,000 to the city's coffers.

With the money, Gloucester City is offering no-interest, tax-deferred loans of $20,000 to homeowners who meet income guidelines. The city approved contractors to make the improvements on nine homes last week, and 10 other homes have been selected for rehabilitation.

In cash-strapped Gloucester City, there has been little protest against the transfers, but some have suggested that using them merely to rehabilitate homes is wrong.

``In one way, it's good. It keeps our infrastructure strong,'' said Pastor Jim Doster of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Gloucester City and a critic of RCAs. ``My personal view is it is a way for wealthier towns to avoid integration and opening up their doors to people of other socioeconomic groups.''

He called the RCA system ``corrupt'' and ``slanted.'' Still, he said, since Gloucester City has already signed deals for nearly $2 million, it should use the money to create opportunities by building housing units for low- and moderate-income people.



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