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MEND Recognizes April as Fair Housing Month

MEND Recognizes April as Fair Housing Month

Eileen Wirth
President & CEO
Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development

April is the month when the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is given a spotlight and fair housing rights and efforts to end housing discrimination are celebrated. Despite judicial successes, fair housing remains subject to debate and our nation continues to have conversations about inequity and the need for change.

Since the founding in 1969 by nine Moorestown churches, Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development, Inc. (MEND) has been ahead of the curve in addressing affordable housing needs in southern New Jersey. Mr. Warren Sawyer, founding MEND trustee, shared his thoughts during MEND’s 50th anniversary. He spoke of MEND’s early days, and how our founder Boyce Adams – a man with a vision and sensitive conscious – saw the need for change of housing for citizens living in neglected rowhomes on Beech Street in Moorestown. 

Church members convened and discussed ideas for respectable housing. Mr. Sawyer referred to Mr. Adams’ words – “It can be done, and it will be done.”

Landmark milestones that have paved the way for fair housing include: The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (1945), the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Fair Housing Act (1968). In 1975, the historic Mount Laurel I decision changed the landscape of affordable housing in the Garden State, ordering all New Jersey municipalities to plan, zone for and take affirmative actions to provide realistic opportunities for their “fair share” of the region’s needs for affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people.

MEND supports communities being free of any form of discrimination, where residents belonging to diverse backgrounds are warmly welcomed as our neighbors. We take great pride in the fact that MEND now owns and manages 770 apartments in nine South Jersey towns. These developments help ensure an equal opportunity in obtaining housing while partnering with municipalities to help them fulfill their state-mandated affordable housing obligations.

To this day, we continue to honor Boyce Adams’ dream – “Everyone deserves a decent, safe and affordable place to call home” – and we will continue to work hard to help close the gap for our New Jersey neighbors in need of affordable housing.