During the 1950s, in response to a lack of affordable housing for low and middle-income families, the federal government worked with the city of New Brunswick to build housing for the working poor.The federal government paid for the cost of construction through the Urban Renewal program. In 1956, the area between George Street in downtown and the Raritan River had been cleared as a result of the Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearence) Act and a portion was used to construct the New Brunswick Memorial Homes, four nine-story towers near the intersection of Remsen Avenue and George Street. The housing district was demolished in 2000 under a federal program and replaced by new public housing developments, the Riverside Apartments and the Hope Manor Apartments, which were intended to provide better and newer amenities.
The demolition of the Memorial Homes was an attempt to ameliorate the effects of concentrated poverty in downtown New Brunswick. However, that decision has come under scrutiny as new housing complexes continue to develop throughout the city. The Hope Manor and Riverside Apartments only have 144 units between them, not even half the number of families who lived in the Memorial Homes.
The demolition of the Memorial Homes and the development of the Riverside Apartments and the Hope Manor Apartments raise certain questions such as: What are the consequences of denying access to affordable housing to families? How will housing continue to develop in New Brunswick? Will lower and middle class families be able to afford the amenities advertised by the new housing developments? Will New Brunswick continue to cater to working class professionals?