As a graduate student, I greatly benefit from morning walks to Wawa for a cup of coffee. The walk is short, and science tells us that cardiovascular exercise helps to stimulate the mind. As time has gone on, though, especially now that the weather has warmed up, I’ve taken note of the sheer amount of homes within my Cherry Hill neighborhood that have foot-high lawns and papers taped in the windows. These homes are no longer inhabited, with most of them being foreclosed.
One would never think that Kingston Estates in Cherry Hill would struggle so greatly with this problem, given the assumed upper-class status that the township holds. Yet, even though Cherry Hill currently lists the third most amount of foreclosure Sheriff Sales in Camden County, there are other places in New Jersey which have even more foreclosed homes up for auction.
Within Camden County, which county-wide has more than 1,140 homes listed, Gloucester Township has 120 properties listed for Sheriff Sale.
Essex County has the most properties listed for Sheriff Sale, with 1,749 properties listed.
Burlington County has 1,262 properties listed, with Mt. Laurel listing 101 properties.
Bergen, Monmouth, and Union Counties all list more than 1,100 properties, while Middlesex, Morris, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties list fewer than 800 each. Other Counties surprisingly did not have such information easily available online.
Aside from listing a bunch of numbers in an article, this story serves as an important reminder and perhaps a wake-up call to my fellow suburban residents. Often times, we do not take too much time to really pay attention to local politics, and we become a little apathetic about the communities we live in. We often pay attention to mainstream media outlets which tell us that things are way worse in places like Camden or Trenton, or even Atlantic City. Yet, Cherry Hill (108), Pennsauken (111), Gloucester (120), and Sicklerville (107) Townships all have more foreclosed properties than Camden (95). Sure, Camden has many more abandoned properties, but before a property became abandoned, it was likely a foreclosed property that families, banks, and governments gave up on.
Most places are given up on when the building falls too far into disrepair, and that process begins with a deteriorating roof. That is exactly why I worry so much for my neighborhood, because there are several homes which have needed blue tarps to be affixed to their roofs, serving as a last effort to prevent damage to the home that the banks already refuse to invest money into. There are now contracting companies which work specifically with preserving foreclosed properties! How bizarre!
When the roofs go, usually the house is soon to follow. I’d greatly like for my fellow suburban residents to pay more attention to these trends, and to reengage with the township governments about this issue before New Jersey becomes home to the first pock-marked suburban towns, once the homes require demolition and lots are left empty.