In December 2017, the city of Garfield, Nj., declared a large section of its First Ward a “Condemnation Redevelopment Zone”—empowering city officials to use eminent domain for private development, even though many property owners do not wish to sell what they’ve worked so hard to own. The study officially designated many homes and businesses in the area as blighted, even though its authors acknowledged that over half of the examined properties do not actually fit New Jersey’s criteria for blight.
Responding to this blatant land grab, the Institute for Justice teamed up with citizens of Garfield’s First Ward to create Stand with Southern Garfield, an alliance formed to fight the city’s bogus First Ward Condemnation Study.
After the study’s adoption, Stand with Southern Garfield and IJ’s activism team coordinated a strong grassroots effort to mobilize Garfield residents. They hosted group meetings, a community forum with over 75 in attendance, and a screening of Little Pink House—not to mention a public information campaign and pushes on social media to recruit people to their cause.
Threatened property owners, frustrated with the city’s refusal to pay attention to their concerns, filed a lawsuit against the city in February 2018. And in September, their perseverance was rewarded when a judge ruled in their favor, putting an end to the city’s condemnation efforts.
Now, property owners throughout Southern Garfield may feel assured that they can stay in their homes and businesses—the ones that they have loved and cherished for so many years.