By Erin Delmore
“I get a lot of people, a lot of times will come up to me and say, ‘I need a place to live and I can only afford so much,'” said Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac.
Woodbridge Township is getting ready to break ground on a new affordable housing complex called Jacob’s Landing.
Under phase one, the Middlesex County rental community will start construction on seven three-story buildings. The new construction is being paid for with federal and state grants, housing development programs and private investment. Authorities noted, no taxpayer funds will be used.
“This project is different because we’re building new housing while still housing the original 150 tenants, so we’re demolishing the office, the community building and the garages to make room for 34 new units and gradually move people over, demolish, move people over. So there’s absolutely no relocation. Everybody stays in place until their unit is ready,” said Woodbridge Housing Authority Executive Director Donna Brightman.
The expansion of affordable housing in Woodbridge comes amid growing need throughout the Garden State. Municipalities are obligated to build more than 140,000 homes due to accrued need between 1999 and 2015, according to the Fair Share Housing Center. And that number’s going up. The center estimates 280,000 affordable housing units needed through the year 2025.
While some towns have chosen to go to court over the obligations, Woodbridge brokered a deal with developers, nonprofits and advocates, as did more than 100 other towns.
“There is, in the United States, a tremendous amount of people that are either homeless or rent burdened. And rent burdened means that they pay more than 50 percent of their income towards their housing costs,” Brightman said.
Residents living in affordable housing units pay 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities. The median household income in Woodbridge Township is nearly $80,000. Right now, this is strictly a public housing unit, meaning residents make under 80 percent of the median income. When the project is rebuilt, it will feature 150 public housing units and 50 affordable units. The new development will offer first dibs to residents already living on the property.
The new complex will be named in honor of Col. Jack Jacobs, a Woodbridge resident who was awarded the medal of honor for his service in the Vietnam War. Demolition is slated to begin next week.