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When workers can’t find housing they can afford, the entire community suffers. There is a call to attract business and young talented professionals and working families alike into the City of Camden to enhance the economic prosperity, however, without a sufficient supply of economical housing to all members of the workforce and growing members, particularly in neighborhoods that are well-connected to employment options, transportation, and other amenities, the regional economy will suffer and residents will pursue elsewhere for employment and growth.


The Link Between Housing and Regional Economic Growth


Economical housing is critically important to a City’s economic health and shared prosperity. With an insufficient supply of housing available to the surrounding workforce, community members will feel the pressures from higher rents and house pricing, and look to live outside of the City limits and commute into the office space instead of becoming an active member of the community.


Workers in higher-wage sectors, including the region’s professional and technical services industry, have more housing choices; however, even these workers will face affordability challenges if there is not a sufficient supply of housing at the right prices and rents in the right locations in the region. There is evidence that young workers around the country are beginning to move out of high-cost areas, especially as they look to start a family and buy a home. If Camden City wants to support the growing, younger talented workforce or existing families seeking employment in the City, they must learn to accommodate the growing demand by providing a housing market that is suitable for peoples of all incomes and homeownership options.


Working Together in the City to Provide Economical Suitable Housing for the New and Existing Workforce


Large industry, key-players, have settled in Camden to provide residents both in and around the City with employment opportunities, however, many of these employees travel great distances, providing traffic backlogs and longer commutes that affect the quality of employee life, because they are unable to find quality, economical, and suitable housing surrounding their place of work. Conversations have emerged in the City of Camden to work with large employers and housing organizations to open up the economical housing market and create a pathway to homeownership for employees seeking to build a lifestyle in Camden, with the help of their employer supporting their journey towards becoming a community stakeholder through homeownership. The collaboration, if it works, can be the beginning to a new life in Camden City, that accommodates individuals from all walks and backgrounds, in their endeavor to build, work, and engage in the surrounding Camden City community for a lifetime.

Eminence Cup


Universal Initiative is proud to announce that in May of 2022 they will hold the large scale world class championship for DanceSport athletes.


During the Eminence Cup 2022 International Tournament, 21 sets of awards will be drawn in all age groups and dance disciplines. Within the framework of Eminence Cup 2022, we will hold WDSF Rating Tournaments, WDSF World Open Competitions, with the main events of Eminence Cup as WDSF World Championships in ShowDance in both Latin and Standard, and WDSF World Championships Under-21 10-Dance.


Athletes from all over the world will join in the shared effort to compete for the title.

Late Monday evening, police took the man into custody.


Protesters were angry that Mathews, seen in videos using racial slurs, was charged with harassment, but then allowed to return home.


New charges have emerged Monday evening as Mathews was taken into custody in dramatic fashion.


According to neighbors, the harassment went even beyond the use of racial slurs. One woman said Mathews kicked down her door and vandalized her vehicle.


It was a dramatic home removal for a man who many claim has been harassing neighbors outside of his Mount Laurel home for years.


Police were called to Mathews’ home Friday shortly after a disturbing video went viral where police say Mathews was “shouting offensive and racial slurs” at a neighbor.


“This is not Africa,” Mathews can be heard saying in the video. “This monkey over here and this monkey over here…”


On Friday, Mathews was charged with biased intimidation and harassment.


“A judge decided that they should be on a summons so that evening, Mr. Mathews was released,” Mount Laurel Police Chief Steve Riedener said.


Monday afternoon, protestors arrived to his home, demanding police take Mathews into custody.


“This is America, we all live here, we cannot put up with this,” Alyia Robinson said.


Several years ago, Robinson’s daughter, Jazmyn, lived in an apartment below Mathews in a different nearby apartment complex. Once the recent video was shared online, she decided to upload one she had taken back.


“I’m literally in fear all the time living with my son, like what am I supposed to do?” Robinson said.


Another neighbor said that at least 10 others have been continually harassed for the color of their skin.


He used a BB gun to shoot their windows out, he smeared dog feces all over their car,” one neighbor said.


I totally understand why the protestors were here today. They had seen videos that weren’t available to us on Friday night that were even worse.

– Scott Coffina, Burlington County prosecutor


Once the new video was reviewed, new charges were added, including assault. The decision was made to arrest Mathews.


The protests that had remained calm all day got heated as police and SWAT units pulled Mathews from his home.


— Alexandria Hoff 


Several bottles were thrown at Mathews’ home and at the police, but many community members urged that action to stop.


The initial months are especially trying for prisoners reentering society. Their obstacles range from limited housing and employment options to a lack of social connections. For many, it is nearly impossible to pursue a higher education without outside support. The New Jersey Reentry Program provides emergency funds for students who struggle to find footing in life after prison. The program also offers mentoring services to reduce recidivism rates.

NJ-STEP College Program

The New Jersey Reentry Program operates under the rubric of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. While our primary targets are NJ STEP students who are transitioning either to Rutgers University or community college, we also reach out to students who prefer to enter the workforce before continuing their college education.

New Jersey Reentry Program

Eunice Wong, Dr. James Cone, Dr. Cornel West and Chris Hedges with students in the NJ-STEP college program at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, New Jersey.

I have taught students for nearly a decade in four New Jersey prisons. I taught a course through Princeton University last year where half of the students were Princeton undergraduates and the other half were incarcerated women. I currently teach, as I have in the past, in the Rutgers B.A. program administered by NJ-STEP. When our students are released they often have difficulty finding employment and and a place to live. I and other professors, over the years, have spent several thousand dollars helping our students make the transition from prison to a productive life on the outside. Our resources are not enough to ensure that our students are given the kind of support they need once they leave prison. The Prison Reentry Program, administered by the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is an attempt to provide emergency help for men and women who have worked hard inside prison to turn their lives around and get a college education and who seek to reintegrate into society.

– Chris Hedges

The NJRC is premised on the ambition to create an environment which promotes pro-social norms, encouraging the establishment of attachments to positive rehabilitative cultures, strengthening bonds among peers who promote positive norms and values, and promoting family reunification. Participants receive individualized assessments and treatment plans that first address essential needs, including housing, treatment, mental health care, medical care, and access to health insurance and other public benefits to secure these essential needs.


The daily expense of supervising a probationer is twenty times less than the average expense of incarcerating an individual in prison or jail. The costs of imprisonment is increasing while the benefits are decreasing substantially. Our capacity to secure public safety for our communities depends upon our ability to improve management to the thousands of individuals in New Jersey who are under probation and/or parole supervision. Proper recognition must be given to persons without resources as post-release success frequently depends on the quality and services amongst support provided within a community.


Furthermore, gainful employment is the most critical aspect of post-prison reentry. Job training, employment counseling, as well as employment placement programs are essential tools for effective reintegration and workforce development.


The NJRC was developed subsequent to the successful implementation of a pilot reentry model in Hudson County/Jersey City in 2014 with the support of Governor Christie’s administration. The Hudson County/Jersey City reentry model was initiated through a series of strategic partnerships between the Hudson County Department of Corrections (HCDOC), the New Jersey Department of Family Services (DFS), and local non-profit providers. Also included are the Jersey City Employment and Training Program (JCETP) and Integrity House, a substance abuse treatment provider, both agencies with decades of experience of experience serving court-involved individuals.


The HCDOC recognized that addressing the need for addiction treatment and successful return to society would result in improved public safety and established a Community Reintegration Program funded in part by a federal Second Chance Act grant. The program has been recognized by the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice “as being at the forefront of the reentry field.” The project is one of only seven in the country to be included in a gold standard evaluation by the National Institute of Justice.

Restorative justice is an alternative to traditional means of rehabilitation and punishment which brings together returning citizens and community members, focusing on conversation and understanding as the first steps on the path to healing.


Art education, paired with personal and professional development, and hands-on assistance on mural projects forge the growth of strong, positive bonds between returning citizens and justice-impacted communities. We place a strong emphasis on work readiness within our Guild program and give creative voice to people who have been disconnected from society.


Restorative Justice participants feel empowered by their accomplishments and emerge with a newfound sense of pride in their own abilities and enhanced employment readiness skills. The Restorative Justice program cultivates resilience in individuals as they transition from incarceration back into civilian life.


We combine art with criminal justice reform organizations Art for Justice and Fair and Justice Prosecution.


If I were to give back anything to the people around me, it would be that, art.


Government and Nonprofit Collaborators

Mural Arts engages in collaborations with numerous government and nonprofit agencies, including:


– City of Philadelphia Youth Violence Reduction Partnership
– Pennsylvania Prison Society
– State Correctional Institution at SCI Phoenix
– Philadelphia Probation Department
– Philadelphia Department of Prisons
– Home for Good Reentry Coalition of the City of Philadelphia
– Numerous community organizations throughout the City of Philadelphia

Learning, thought, creativity, and intelligence don’t just come from the brain alone, but from the entire body. Movement combinations increase memory, order, and sequencing skills. Creating dances also increases self-esteem which is so very important to learning. We already witness the need for children to move throughout the day. Having experienced first hand the positive effects that music and dance have on students’ development, I feel it is important for dance to be included in all elementary (and secondary) curricula.


There are so many reasons why dance is important to the health and development of our young people. Above all, children need to move! Any way to get kids moving on their feet is a must (especially in a digital era). Dance burns calories, strengthens muscles, improves balance, increases flexibility, and gives the heart a good workout. Dance has also been proven to increase cognitive development. Current research documents the importance of exercise on the brain and supports what dancers have always known – the body and mind are connected in vital ways.


Utilizing dance in academics also helps children develop skills that are necessary for learning such as creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. Through the creative process, students are encouraged to use their imagination, collaborate with their peers to solve problems, and discover multiple solutions to challenges.


It is because of these reasons that I have chosen to incorporate music and dance into every PE program here at MCS. The elders are so happy to hear fun music and move their bodies! I have found that they learn steps and rhythms extremely quickly. By the time the children get to Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and then to the Adolescent Community, although their taste in music might change, they are still incredibly happy to move their feet. Also, their repertoire of dance numbers is quite amazing! Some children chose to create their own dances, and this is always a joy to watch. My hope is that all of our children and young adults never lose their desire to play music and just dance!