Affordable Housing Project Breaks Ground in Newark

From left: Department of Housing and Urban Development Newark Field Office Director Diane J. Johnson, La Casa de Don Pedro Director of Community and Economic Development Alle Ries, Local Initiative Support Corporation Executive Director Ronda Lewis, La Casa de Don Pedro Board President Zoraya Lee-Hamlin, Executive Director Raymond Ocasio, Mayor Cory Booker, Northern NJ TD Bank Regional Vice President Martin Melilli, Director Meyer, and Council Member Sharif. Photo credit: Newark Press Information Office, E. Cameron.

In a city where finding affordable housing has become increasingly difficult in the last few years, construction began on the Lower Broadway Stabilization Affordable Housing Development in Newark’s Central Ward.

Dignitaries attending Tuesday’s groundbreaking included Mayor Cory Booker and Raymond Ocasio, Executive Director of La Casa de Don Pedro, the community organization that is overseeing the housing project through its development arm Don Pedro Development Corp.

The project includes new construction of five detached, townhouse-style, two-family homes, and the rehabilitation of one single-family home. The homes will be located on underutilized scattered sites identified through La Casa’s Lower Broadway community planning efforts.

The five new two-family row houses and the one single family row house will provide homeownership and rental opportunities in the Lower Broadway Community of Newark. The two-family homes will sell for $200,000 — two-thirds of their cost. The owners will live in one three-bedroom unit and rent the other, two-bedroom unit at a subsidized rate.

“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony is another example of how we are rising as a city and making our neighborhoods stronger. I thank La Casa de Don Pedro, our Economic and Housing Development team and all of the project’s funders and community partners for their commitment to making sure this project moves forward. This development will provide much needed affordable homeownership and rental housing opportunities for eleven Newark families and will be another step to help transform our Lower Broadway Neighborhood. It will transform dilapidated properties and abandoned lots into vibrant, safe, thriving places,” said Booker.

“In a community hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, we are very pleased to follow through with our commitment to providing high quality affordable housing in Lower Broadway” said Ocasio. “This also complements the work we are doing to recapture foreclosed homes, rehabilitate them and sell them as affordable homes.”

The development received critical pre-development support from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Greater Newark and Jersey City, and construction financing is coming from TD Bank and the Leviticus Fund. Subsidies to make the homes affordable are provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the City of Newark’s HOME and NSP program as well as the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. The total cost of the project is $2.3 million and expected to be completed by September 2012.

The construction is being provided by LC HomeBuilder, a La Casa affiliate created to ensure quality and control costs of La Casa’s developments and to serve the construction needs of other non-profits and private interests. The houses are designed by David V. Abramson of CTS Architecture.

Long-time Central Ward resident Theresa McFadden was also at the event. She said, “Of the years that I have been a Newark resident, I’ve been a homeowner on this block for eight years. I am so excited to hear about this development because this will prevent illegal dumping and druggies hanging out at this corner. This is great!”

La Casa is currently accepting and reviewing applications from prospective homeowners who must participate in housing counseling classes in order to purchase the homes. For more information on these homes, contact La Casa de Don Pedro at (973) 485-0701, ext. 4621.