Development Incorporates “Safe Haven” Model to Serve Chronically Homeless and Hard-to-Reach Individuals; Will Include Apartments and “Drop-In” Center
Newark, NJ – New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta today joined local officials, as well as representatives of the developer, New Community Corporation, to celebrate the grand opening of A Better Life, a supportive housing development for the chronically homeless that was financed in part with Superstorm Sandy recovery funds.
The development incorporates a “safe haven” model, a form of permanent supportive housing funded and administered under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) McKinney Vento Supportive Housing Program and the first to be developed in New Jersey. The project includes 23 units for chronically homeless individuals earning less than 30 percent of the area median income and who are generally considered hard-to-reach homeless persons who have been unwilling or unable to participate in homeless services or shelters.
The $8.3 million development consists of the new construction of a two-story, 24,063-square-foot building located on four vacant lots at 93-101 14th Ave., between Bergen and Camden streets, in Newark’s Central Ward. NJHMFA awarded the project $4.4 million in construction loan financing and $3.1 million from the Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund, which was created in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to provide subsidies in the form of zero- and low-interest loans to developers of affordable supportive housing in the nine counties the federal government designated as the most impacted by the storm. The project also received federal 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which generated nearly $2.7 million in private equity.
“We are proud to be part of this important project to provide supportive housing for residents who are in dire need,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Charles A. Richman, whose department administers most of New Jersey’s Sandy recovery initiatives and who also serves as chairman of the NJHMFA board. “Because people with special needs, such as chronic homelessness, were particularly hard hit by Superstorm Sandy, we awarded the project Sandy recovery funds to better reach and serve homeless individuals who might be facing other challenges such as health problems and substance abuse.”
The development includes 20 studio apartments and three respite units for residents, with one unit reserved for a superintendent. Each unit has a kitchenette, living/bedroom, and a private bathroom. There is also shared community spaces for meetings and other activities designed to encourage tenants to socialize. In addition to housing, the project includes a “drop-in” or engagement center, coordinated with Newark Crisis and Outreach services, open to the development’s residents and targeted non-residents. The drop-in center is intended as a first stop for engagement of individuals who have historically been resistant to services and/or housing previously offered to them. The building also includes a commercial kitchen that provides meals to the drop-in community and office space for service staff to provide counseling and basic clinical care and perform administrative functions.
“By ensuring that one of the state’s most vulnerable populations has access to new affordable homes that include support services for everyday living, A Better Life represents NJHMFA’s core mission to provide safe and decent housing in New Jersey,” said NJHMFA Executive Director Marchetta. “This development is a prime example of the far-reaching benefits that are being provided by the state’s Sandy recovery funds.”
A Better Life’s residents do not pay rent because the project’s operations are subsidized by a HUD Shelter Plus Care award, providing $1,022 per housing unit, per month.
Public transportation is within walking distance and University Hospital is a block away. Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, previously UMDNJ, provides case management services to the tenants of the project from HUD Supportive Housing Funds.
The New Community Corporation, a nonprofit organization based in Newark, is recognized as one of the largest, most comprehensive community development corporations in the country, and has been at the vanguard of providing safe, decent and attractive housing for low-income residents for 50 years. New Community Corporation offers a one-stop resource center, early childhood development, youth services, workforce training, adult continuing education, family transitional housing, food pantry, mental health services, extended care for seniors, a community newspaper, and arts and cultural events.
During construction, NJHMFA estimates that A Better Life project generated approximately $13 million in one-time economic output, defined as the total value of industry production, such as sales and business revenue. The project also supported approximately 78 direct and indirect/induced full-time equivalent jobs, and generated over $480,000 in state and local taxes during construction. Now complete, A Better Life is expected to continue to add value to the community by providing nearly $1.5 million in ongoing economic output, about eight direct and indirect/induced full-time equivalent jobs, and approximately $83,000 in state and local taxes annually.
For more information on the Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund and other NJHMFA programs, visit www.njhousing.gov.