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December 19, 2017

“In Your Neighborhood” Conducts Fourth, Final Community Forum of 2018

Last night at New Brunswick’s Adult Learning Center, NJTV hosted its fourth In Your Neighborhood community forum with New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), a non-profit that deals with the social and economic revitalization of New Brunswick. The topic: the challenges of local housing and their effect on community health and quality of life.

NJTV News correspondent and forum moderator Michael Hill interviews panelist Ashley Koning of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University on NJTV News prior to the forum

Hosted by NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill, the forum included a panel of experts and audience Q&A. Panelist Ashley Koning, PhD, of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, cited a 2016 New Brunswick Community Survey, which included that 69% of New Brunswick residents rent versus own their housing (higher than the state average) and that 46% of residents are looking to leave the city — key concerns for residents included affordability and safety. Jaymie Santiago, NBT Executive Director, stressed the importance of this type of Survey, which requires resident feedback on personal issues like housing in order to identify and solve problems. “Sharing problems leads to opportunities.”

Staci Berger, President & CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ, echoed the need for civic involvement to help keep communities safe. She looks to the new state administration to remedy decade-long rollbacks in funding for things that promote public safety, like lead testing in water, which she says threatens the lives of children across the state. Teresa Vivar, Executive Director of Lazos America Unida, explained the plight of immigrants trying to find affordable housing, their unique struggles with landlords, and the need for unity in communities for the benefit of all residents. “We have to learn to collaborate to assure quality of life for all the community,” Vivar said. Karen Blumenthal, Esq., Executive Director of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, added commentary on the changing policies for smoke-free public housing, promoting healthier living spaces for residents.

Audience member Bonfilia Jarquin awaits her question to be translated from Spanish to English

This was the first NJTV forum to offer on-site Spanish translation, which several in the audience took advantage of. Additional translation of audience questions and concerns were facilitated by NJTV’s Community Engagement Coordinator Selma Betancourt.

The NJTV Team with panelists: (L-R) Deb Falk, Selma Betancourt, Jaymie Santiago, Michael Hill, Ashley Koning, Teresa Vivar, Staci Berger, Karen Blumenthal

The new bilingual Healthy Homes Exhibit used by New Brunswick Tomorrow was displayed at the venue.

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