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March 1st, 2015
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Public Information ~ Public Information Office
973-266-5153 / Office 973-395-8927 / Fax ~ publicinformation@eastorange-nj.gov

East Orange Property Maintenance Director testifies before Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee

East Orange, NJ, March 17, 2015 – Dwight Saunders, Director of Property Maintenance, recently testified on Monday, March 16, 2015, before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on the effectiveness of the 2004 Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act that allows municipalities to take proactive measures to combat neglected properties.

Since passing a local ordinance in November, East Orange has identified 582 abandoned properties and begun efforts to collect fees from their owners, according to Saunders.

“That can be a difficult task in an era when owners, landlords and lenders have walked away from properties where mortgage, back taxes or rehabilitation costs can be greater than what the houses are worth,” Saunders said before the committee in Trenton on Monday. “There’s a lot of investigative work that you have to do to find these people or companies, whose addresses often are post office boxes.”

To date, the city has aggressively tracked down the owners of 105 properties. Working cooperatively with the city’s Quality of Life Task Force, Saunders expects East Orange to collect $403,000 in enforcement fees this year alone.

“By holding owners of these vacant or abandoned properties accountable, we have not only increased revenue for the city, but we are well on our way to clearing up lots that have been blemishes in our city for years,” said Mayor Lester E. Taylor III.

CONTACT: Connie Jackson, 973-266-5153, ext. 5339, connie.jackson@eastorange-nj.gov