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“We stayed here [in Camden] because we feel a commitment to the community, and it’s groups like the CSSD that we appreciate.” Jeffrey Zucker, Partner, Zucker Steinberg Sonstein & Wixted, Attorneys at Law, Camden, NJ
The Camden Special Services District (CSSD) was launched in 2005 to foster economic development in the Downtown commercial corridor. CSSD is a traditional clean and safe program, designed to improve the physical appearance of downtown Camden and adjacent areas in order to provide an enhanced sense of safety and hospitality to visitors, residents, employees and students. In doing so, the program benefits existing businesses and supports new investment. Additionally, the program creates job opportunities for Camden residents, as the CSSD hires its workers only from the Camden community.
The CSSD provides enhanced clean services: trash removal, sidewalk and street sweeping, power-washing, graffiti removal and maintenance of streetscape painting; a uniform presence: “eyes and ears on the street,” and limited ambassadorial services focused primarily on special events.
The CSSD is funded by voluntary contributions coming from more than 30 different sources, including the major institutional anchors in the city, local government and private businesses. To reaffirm the commitment to the city, the program creates job opportunities for residents by hiring its staff from the Camden community. The local hiring policy ensures that the CSSD workers care about the impact of the work they do and are a reliable source of information for residents and visitors. The impact of the CSSD can be seen on Camden’s streets and corridors but also throughout the neighborhoods. Last summer, the City of Camden launched the Camden Clean Campaign that asked city residents to clean-up their neighborhoods. With approximately 1,500 residents volunteering their time, over 140 Camden parks, buildings and open spaces were cleared of liter and graffiti.
CSSD employees clean and maintain approximately 150 vacant lots and existing properties located in the Cooper Plaza and Lanning Square neighborhoods as part of the Camden Redevelopment Agency’s Federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. During the past year, CSSD also successfully increased its emphasis on landscaping in the downtown and began a new city-wide graffiti removal initiative. By doing so, CSSD has improved its capability to offer a robust clean and safe program committed to enhancing the economic climate across the City of Camden.
In 2008 the Camden Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) contracted CSSD to create the Neighborhood Improvement Program. This program made it possible for CSSD to expand and provide services to adjacent commercial corridors. Besides Downtown, CSSD provides clean and safe services for: Broadway, Federal Street, Haddon Avenue, Mt. Ephraim, River Avenue, Kaighn Avenue and Yorkship Square.
Although the program works closely with the local government and law enforcement, it is not its purpose to duplicate efforts of any other group or public agency. CSSD does not provide police services or take on the traditional responsibilities of the city government.
CSSD, in partnership with the City of Camden recently lanunched a re-entry program that provides seasonal employment to ex-offenders in the City of Camden to provide clean & safe services to major corridors to the City of Camden. The re-entry program began operation in early August and is scheduled to run through the end of December 2011.
This re-entry program currently exists as a portion of the Camden Special Services District (CSSD)'s Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP). The NIP was created in 2008 as a partnership between the CSSD and the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) to provide clean & safe services similar to the CSSD's downtown improvement district to five different commercial corridors throughout Camden City.
As part of the reentry program, these ex-offenders make up a strategic deployment team of 12-14 individuals to provide additional clean & safe services to three major commercial corridors in the City -- Mt. Ephraim Avenue, Haddon Avenue and Kaighn Avenue. The team also assists in maintaining and beautifying additional public spaces across the city as needed. Like all Camden residents employed in the CSSD Clean & Safe Program, reentry applicants are scrutinized with rigorous background checks and drug testing. Close contact between the CSSD and the Mayor's Office Re-Entry Coordinator ensures a smooth and efficient program.
For more information about the CSSD and Re-Entry program visit Camdendowntown.com