Money to save MLK house was diverted to fire department

Cherri Gregg
May 10, 2018 - 5:06 pm
The money earmarked to save the dilapidated Camden home where the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived back in 1950 has been diverted to the city's fire department.

Mike DeNardo | KYW Newsradio

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CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The more than $200,000 earmarked to save the dilapidated Camden home where the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived back in 1950 has been diverted to the city's fire department. 

"My reaction — I was shocked," said activist and historian Patrick Duff.

He has been working for years to save the three-story home on Walnut Street, where King was said to have lived as a seminary student. The house is vacant and in desperate need of repair. 

While Duff worked to get historical designation for the property, the City of Camden received a $229,000 block grant designated for its rehab. But when work failed to move onward, Duff began asking questions.

"The city wouldn't give me any information, so I had to start filing OPRA [Open Public Records Act] requests to find out what happened to the money," Duff said.

He eventually sued, and on Friday the city disclosed in court that the money was diverted to the fire department. 

A judge ordered officials to produce documents by May 18 to prove the change followed procedure.

"The fact that the money is not there anymore and I was looking for it — there's something wrong there," Duff said.

The city has not commented yet.