In Newark, the nightmare of losing your home is very real. According to NJ Communities United, almost 1 in 4 mortgage-holders in New Jersey are underwater – they owe more money than their home is now worth. And in Newark alone, there have been almost 7,000 foreclosures between 2008 and 2012.
On a chilly Saturday morning in Newark, New Jersey, a group of about 45 people gathered together in a small conference room not far from Newark-Penn Station. NJ Communities United, a progressive, grassroots advocacy group that focuses on low and moderate-income communities, operates out of the office upstairs. You might spot members of NJ Communities United in demonstrations across the state or in Washington, D.C. protesting for education or immigration reform. Signs and posters from these protests adorn the walls.
But that morning, the focus was on another issue facing residents of New Jersey’s largest city. As participants began to trickle in at 10 a.m., they exchanged hugs and handshakes and helped themselves to a little breakfast – in preparation for a weekend-long seminar called the Housing Justice Academy.