I am not alone. “Some of my favorite moments are when I have family or friends over for the
first time,” says my neighbor Stephanie Bittner. “One of the first things they say to me is, ‘This
is a really nice area.’” Bittner has become one of my closest friends in the grassy Cooper-Grant
neighborhood where we live.
Like me, Bittner is white, single, well educated and employed. We both moved to Cooper-Grant in 2008, when the neighborhood association partnered with the state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and a private developer to build spacious market-rate duplexes and row
houses for first-time buyers on a series of vacant lots between the Rutgers-Camden campus and
the Delaware River, directly across from Philadelphia. The idea was to lure white-collar buyers who were willing to accept certain deed restrictions (homes must be owner-occupied, for
example) in exchange for moderately priced waterfront housing and temporary tax abatements.
It worked. The dozen-plus houses sold out immediately to the intended market. In moved
an architect; two doctors; a real estate professional and a pharmaceutical-company rep raising
toddlers; a young couple active in civic life; a retail manager who cuts my grass every time he
mows his own, and a retired couple who wake me up when the meter maid is approaching and
have been known to seduce me with their home-smoked pork. We are white, Hispanic, African-
& Gary Rosen
In 2008, 30-something
writer Nurin was the first
to buy one of Cooper-Grant’s new homes.
Boyfriend Rosen moved
in two years ago with his
drum kit and collection
of aged craft beers.