New Jersey Receives Two National Awards for Housing Initiatives
Council of State Community Development Agencies Presents National Awards
“I am thrilled that New Jersey is receiving national recognition for these unique programs,” Governor Corzine said. “We have been working hard to provide resources that increase homeownership and local community-based investment and these programs are reflective of that goal.”
New Jersey received the 2009 COSCDA Sterling Achievement Award for the Camden Home Improvement Program (CHIP), a citywide program that provides low and moderate-income Camden homeowners who earn below 80 percent of the area median income with up to $20,000 in forgivable loans to make essential life safety home improvements. The highest priority renovations include repairs to fire exits and electrical, gas and plumbing systems. Loans may also be used on improvements required for occupancy, such as water, sewer and heating, as well as weatherization repairs and exterior aesthetics. Of the 300 units that will be rehabilitated, more than half are completed, with the remainder in various stages of construction.
The program began in 2006 with the support of Camden Churches Organized for People (CCOP), Concerned Black Clergy, the Camden Community Development Association (CCDA), and other community-based organizations. It was funded with $5 million from the Economic Recovery Board for Camden (ERB), $2.5 million from the Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Neighborhood Preservation Balanced Housing program, and an additional funding commitment of $350,000 from the City of Camden. Cooper’s Ferry Development Association runs the day-to-day operation of the program on behalf of the HFMA, which is an affiliate of the DCA.
“The Camden Home Improvement Program has had a tremendous impact on improving the quality of life of homeowners participating in the program,” said DCA Acting Commissioner Charles A. Richman. “I encourage other municipalities to use CHIP as a model for their own housing rehabilitation efforts because it has proven to be successful.”
The State received the 2009 COSCDA President’s Award for Innovation for the Live Where You Work (LWYW) program, a workforce housing initiative that provides low-interest, fixed rate mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers purchasing homes in towns where they are employed. It also provides certain homebuyers with up to 5 percent of the first mortgage loan for down payment and closing cost assistance, which is completely forgiven as long as the homeowner continues to own and live in the home for seven years. Homes must be located in a municipality that has become a LWYW partner with HMFA. The program enhances Governor Corzine’s efforts to revitalize and build sustainable communities that encourage greener environments, access to public transportation and affordable housing opportunities for residents.
Currently, 23 municipalities are participating in the LWYW program, including: Trenton, Jersey City, Woodbridge, Elizabeth, Atlantic City, Rahway, Morristown, Evesham, Neptune Township, Bayonne, Carteret, New Brunswick, Paterson, Glassboro, Orange, Keyport, Newark, Washington Township (Gloucester County), Edgewater Park, Cherry Hill, Plainfield, Old Bridge and Passaic.
“Live Where You Work encourages residents to become more engaged locally and reduces congestion on our roads. It offers practical and environmentally smart solutions that benefit prospective homeowners, employers and municipalities alike,” said HMFA Executive Director Marge Della Vecchia. “The HMFA is proud to have played a role in its success, as well as the success of the Camden Home Improvement Program.”
COSCDA is a national association that provides states with necessary support to take on leadership roles in community development. Its goal is to advocate on behalf of states’ interests with federal policy makers. COSDCA supports the common interest of states, with emphasis on community development, affordable housing, local economic development and state-local relations. The association’s Sterling Achievement Award recognizes state programs that have demonstrated, during a sustained period, positive results in improving the lives of lower income people.
For more information on the Camden Home Improvement Program, please visit its website at www.camdenchip.com. To learn about the Live Where You Work program, go to www.livewhereyouwork.nj.gov.