August 12, 2020
Dear Friends,
For those of you who have followed the smart growth and sustainable development movement the past few decades, the interlocking circle diagram will be very familiar.
While terms have changed and visual representations of the movement have been reimagined, the fundamental concept that underlies our work remains the same. The decisions about how we develop and grow in New Jersey must consider and strive to optimize environmental, economic, and social equity outcomes.

Today, we are learning what it means to optimize social equity in ways that we rarely understood before. We see how systemic racism and classism have disproportionately affected people of color and those with lower incomes; oftentimes preventing access to opportunities that many of us take for granted and inflicting considerable harm on individuals and our communities.

As we move forward with our work, we will continue to seek bold solutions that benefit our economy, environment and advance social justice. We will also look to make new connections between our work and a more just society. We ask that you challenge us to do this more and that you seek to make these connections in your own work as well.

One such connection is between our aging-friendly community work and racial and social justice. In today’s newsletter, we highlight a project done by our intern Tom Kozma, under the guidance of our planning manager, Tanya Rohrbach. The project was designed to identify strategies that towns can follow to make local housing options more diverse and affordable. During the course of the project, it became evident that many of these same strategies can be used to diversify housing and make it more affordable for everyone. And if done well, implementing these strategies can move us toward a geography of equity and inclusion that breaks down our segregated borders. You’ll see terms and strategies mentioned in this report that are being echoed across the region and country—terms like “middle housing,” which means small multi-family buildings; and “accessory dwelling units” that allow an additional residential unit on an existing lot or within an existing house. New Jersey will need to look seriously at these different options along with its underlying zoning and design standards to make our communities more aging-friendly and less segregated.

Our research director, Tim Evans, shares two important pieces in this month’s newsletter. The first is an exploration of the expanding world of virtual workplaces and the potential impacts this will have on our built environment. The second piece highlights an important demographic trend taking place in New Jersey; population growth has stopped and it has been driven by a reduced number of people immigrating from overseas. How will this impact our economy, our smart growth locations, and our diversity?

And as we make it through Tropical Storm Isaias, still early in this year’s hurricane season, Louise Wilson discusses in a NJ Spotlight op-ed how climate change impacts all of us, and how green infrastructure and new approaches to stormwater regulations can help.

Please join us in working toward a better future for New Jersey; a New Jersey made of strong, healthy, resilient communities for everyone.

Toward equity and inclusion,

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
Working from home will have myriad effects—both positive and negative—on the geographic patterns of residence, employment, shopping, and travel behavior if the stay-at-home advisories of the pandemic era translate into a permanent increase in the number of people working from home. Read more.
A new collection of case studies details strategies municipalities can employ to increase housing stock diversity. These strategies are important tools for creating places that allow older adults to age in their communities and can also have the benefit of offering housing options to residents who otherwise would not be able to live in that community.
For the past decade, the small annual increases in New Jersey’s population have been largely due to immigration, as the Star-Ledger reported—using New Jersey Future as a source—in a June story (“N.J.’s population would have fallen over the past decade if not for growing diversity, new data shows”) about how the steady stream of immigrants has made New Jersey increasingly diverse. But with recent changes in federal immigration policy, the stream of immigrants has slowed to a trickle, with implications for the state’s overall population growth and where growth is or isn’t happening.
Oh, for the days when we confronted (it seemed) one crisis at a time. New Jersey, like much of the world, doesn’t have that luxury today. The crises keep on coming: COVID-19, a reinvigorated reckoning with systemic racism, unemployment, recession. And the granddaddy of them all, presenting threats that, like each of the above, affect Black and brown people disproportionately: climate change.
Legislative Updates
  • A bill that would help control pollution in environmental justice communities (S232) was expected to be passed by the Assembly, approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Murphy last month, but ultimately did not get posted for a vote. The legislation, if enacted, would serve as a national model by giving communities of color and lower-income communities a way to block projects that would contribute to increased pollution in these areas. Despite this setback, New Jersey Future is optimistic that the bill ultimately advances and supports its passage.
Coming Up
  • Tim Evans, Director of Research, and Tanya Rohrbach, Community Planning Manager, will be speaking at the multi-day virtual conference Age-Friendly Communities NJ: New Relevance on Sep. 29 from 10:00 am - 11:30 am. New Jersey Future is proud to be a Partner of this conference with sessions on Sept. 15, 22, 29, and Oct. 6.
Featured Resources

The Developers Green Infrastructure Guide 2.0 breaks down New Jersey’s Stormwater Rule amendments and helps developers and decision-makers understand more clearly green infrastructure options and advantages, compare alternatives, evaluate costs and benefits.

This report from the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force outlines actions New Jersey can take to virtually eliminate lead in drinking water in 10 years. New Jersey Future is a member of the Jersey Water Works collaborative.
Social Media Highlight
New Jersey Future in the News
Visit us and subscribe to our YouTube channel, where you can find videos about our Smart Growth Award winners, some of our media appearances, and various aspects of our work. Visit our channel.
Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible growth, redevelopment and infrastructure investments to foster vibrant cities and towns, protect natural lands and waterways, enhance transportation choices, provide access to safe, affordable and aging-friendly neighborhoods and fuel a strong economy. New Jersey Future does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on strategic assistance. Embracing differences and advancing fairness is central to New Jersey Future’s mission and operations. To effectively advance its mission, New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursue a culture of greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations and external communications.