Section: Public works contract not awarded without agreement and guarantee of equal opportunity.
The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. There exists within this State a serious shortage of decent, safe, and sanitary dwelling units for persons of limited means, particularly in urban centers such as Newark, Irvington, Paterson, Trenton and Camden;
b. In those same centers in which the housing crisis is most severe, many residential properties have been acquired by municipalities because of their abandonment or the failure on the part of their owners to pay property taxes;
c. Owing to their abandonment and neglect, these structures are generally unsafe and unsound, posing a threat to local residents and undermining the stability of entire neighborhoods;
d. The already formidable demands placed upon these governments in attempting to maintain acceptable levels of municipal service in the face of declining assistance from higher levels of government are only exacerbated by the financial expense and administrative burden associated with the upkeep of this obsolescent municipal property;
e. Not only does the persistence of this urban ill seriously drain municipal coffers and undermine the physical and social fabric of our major urban centers, but it also represents a senseless waste of residential accommodation at a time when affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce;
f. If municipalities were provided with greater flexibility in disposing of these municipally-owned residential buildings, they would thereby be assisted in diminishing the onerous burdens associated with property ownership under these circumstances, in recycling housing units which are so vital, and finally, in reversing the fortunes of neighborhoods which exist in the shadow of these abandoned, obsolescent, and unsafe structures;
g. It is therefore in the public interest and a valid public purpose for the Legislature to allow municipalities the discretion to dispose of these residential properties for limited consideration, through the establishment of urban homesteading programs, in order to facilitate their reuse and, equally, to encourage and promote the economic revitalization of this State's urban centers.
L. 1988, c. 148, s. 2.
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