New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency

Christie Administration Marks Grand Opening of Affordable Housing Project Assisted with Federal Sandy Recovery Funds

For Immediate Release:
June 3, 2015
Lisa Ryan
Woodrow Wilson Commons III in Long Branch Provides 51 Affordable Rental Opportunities for Working Families, Five Units Set Aside for Individuals with Special Needs
LONG BRANCH, NJ – Representatives of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and its affiliate, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), today joined state and local officials, and representatives of Pennrose Properties, LLC, to celebrate the grand opening of Woodrow Wilson Commons III, the last section of a three-phase development that provides a total of 173 units, including 168 units of quality affordable housing in Long Branch, Monmouth County.

Woodrow Wilson Commons III received $3.5 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funding through the HMFA’s Fund for Restoration of Multifamily Housing (FRM) program, which provides housing developers an opportunity to secure zero-interest and low-interest loans to finance the development of affordable housing in the nine counties most impacted by Superstorm Sandy as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HMFA also approved the $15.2 million project for the competitive 9% federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) of up to $10.8 million over ten years. The HMFA additionally provided Woodrow Wilson Commons III with approximately $613,516 in permanent financing.

“I commend the staff at HMFA for their efforts in helping to create affordable housing for those impacted by Superstorm Sandy, for working families, for senior citizens and for those with special needs,” said David Reiner, Deputy Commissioner of the DCA, which administers many of New Jersey’s Sandy recovery initiatives. “I also congratulate the developers of Woodrow Wilson Commons for making use of a Sandy recovery program to help finance the last section of this excellent housing redevelopment project that revitalizes the neighborhood and transforms Long Branch.”

Woodrow Wilson Commons III contains 51 housing units, five of which are set aside for individuals with special needs. Woodrow Wilson Commons I and II, which were completed and opened in February 2014, provide 122 apartments and a 2,500-square-foot community building. All units include a variety of amenities, including central air conditioning, electric ranges, and Energy Star appliances. Woodrow Wilson Commons III is Energy Star certified and features a mix of 10 one-bedroom units, 23 two-bedroom units and 18 three-bedroom units. Ninety percent of the units are available to families and individuals at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), which for a family of four is $53,340.

Woodrow Wilson Commons III began leasing up its units on August 1, 2014 and during the first 90 days of lease-up, priority for residency was given to Sandy-impacted individuals who registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance or who rented an apartment or owned a primary residence that was no longer habitable because of Sandy damage. The development is fully occupied, but individuals who are interested in a unit can apply and will be placed on a waiting list. For more information, contact the Woodrow Wilson Commons Community Building at (732) 963-2266 or email for further details.

“Woodrow Wilson Commons is a transformational project that will deliver significant social benefits and new investment to Long Branch. It will provide vital housing opportunities to working households struggling to make ends meet, as well as families affected by the storm,” said HMFA Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta. "Additionally, the Low Income Housing Tax Credits program, which helped significantly finance this project, is the nation’s most successful mechanism for the production of affordable housing that creates jobs and ratables for our cities and municipalities.”

“My move to Woodrow Wilson Commons has changed my life,” said Menplay “Manny” Fountain, a resident at Woodrow Wilson Commons. “After Hurricane Sandy I was living in a motel, and now my home is a beautiful apartment perfectly suited to my needs. Words cannot express my gratitude and how much I love living here. I am forever grateful to all the people that worked hard to get me here, a place that I can be proud to call home.”

Other funding sources for the development of Woodrow Wilson Commons included HUD, Wells Fargo Bank, Red Stone Equity Partners, JP Morgan Chase Bank, and Bank of America.

The redevelopment of the Woodrow Wilson Commons site is the result of efforts by Pennrose Properties, LLC and Maestro Community Development Corporation, the non-profit arm of the Long Branch Housing Authority. Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennrose Properties, LLC, is a leading developer of multifamily and affordable housing. Pennrose has developed more than 14,000 housing units in over 11 states, plus Washington D.C.

For Woodrow Wilson Commons, the developers took what was an obsolete public housing project built in the 1950s and transformed it into a new, walkable townhouse-style rental community with an excellent stormwater management system should the area be hit with severe weather in the future.

For more information on HMFA programs, including the Fund for Restoration of Multifamily Housing, please call 1-800-NJHOUSE or (609) 278-7400, or visit
Christie Administration Marks Grand Opening of Affordable Housing Project Assisted with Federal Sandy Recovery Funds
High Res Photo

(Front row, left to right) Alex Morris, senior associate, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC; Michael Winnick, commissioner, Long Branch Housing Authority; John Pallone, councilman, Long Branch City Council; Tyrone Garrett, executive director, Long Branch Housing Authority; Dr. Mary Jane Celli, councilperson, City of Long Branch. (Second row, left to right)  Dorthia Johnson, commissioner, Long Branch Housing Authority; Yvonne Russell, commissioner, Long Branch Housing Authority; Maria Maio-Messano, director, HUD Newark Field Office. (Third row, left to right)  Sonia Burgos, director, HUD Office of Public Housing; Donna Rendeiro, chief of staff, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency; Etta Rudolf Denk, senior vice president, Bank of America. (Back row, left to right)  Donald Covin, chairman, Long Branch Housing Authority Board of Commissioners; Andres Mejer, Esq., commissioner, Long Branch Housing Authority; David Reiner, deputy commissioner, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs; Carl Jennings, vice chairman, Long Branch Housing Authority Board of Commissioners; Timothy Henkel, senior vice president, Pennrose Properties, LLC.