Executive staff from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s (NJHMFA) on Wednesday broke ground in Camden on the new site for 58 affordable apartments for seniors – the last phase of the redevelopment for a former public housing site in the city’s Centerville neighborhood.
The construction marks the beginning of phase four of The Branches at Centerville which will complete the comprehensive revitalization of the site of the former Clement T. Branch Village.
The new development will include 58 one-bedroom apartments in a three-story building for residents age 55 years and older, earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. Five apartments will be set aside for homeless individuals.
Clement T. Branch Village is the last public housing community to be redeveloped in the neighborhood’s Mt. Ephraim Avenue corridor, a main thoroughfare to the east of the development. Eight two-story brick buildings were demolished, and three new public roads will be introduced to better integrate the community with the rest of the residential neighborhood.
NJHMFA awarded the $15.9 million development competitive 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), which are expected to generate $12.9 million in private equity.
The LIHTC program is considered the single largest source of funding for affordable housing in the U.S. for families, seniors and residents with special needs, for which NJHMFA is the state’s sole administrator. Projects like The Branches at Centerville are in areas close to transportation and jobs, which are key components in the award of tax credits.
The development partners are The Michaels Organization and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden (HACC). HACC worked to relocate residents who can opt to return to the new apartments once the project is completed.
Michaels has spearheaded the Branch Village redevelopment with financing or tax credit awards from NJHMFA.
The first phase of the redevelopment opened in December 2017 with 50 affordable one- to two-bedroom rental apartments in a mid-rise building. The second phase provided 72 affordable townhomes for families with incomes up to 60 percent AMI and includes five apartments for homeless individuals. In October 2019, Michaels held a groundbreaking for the third phase – 75 additional townhomes for families – with an expected completion date of October 2020.
Rents for the senior apartments will be approximately $825 for a one-bedroom apartment. Better Tomorrows, a New Jersey nonprofit 501(c) organization, will coordinate supportive services for the residents of the five set-aside apartments. Their social services will be centered around four key areas of assistance to help the residents with education, financial stability, health and wellness, and strong communities.
The Michaels Organization has partnered with NJHMFA on numerous projects in Camden. In the last five years alone, the Michaels Organization has completed or plans to complete six developments financed in part by NJHMFA, which have, or will, provide nearly 600 affordable housing opportunities. In October, NJHMFA joined Michaels for the grand opening of Cooper Plaza Townhomes, a major renovation of 64 townhomes that will preserve historic properties and affordable homes for families living in the city.
NJHMFA has been a leader in the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing opportunities for families, seniors and special needs residents statewide through its loan financing and bond programs; mortgage, down payment and closing costs assistance; and the award of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits. NJHMFA does not rely on any direct funding from the New Jersey State Treasury to meet its core operating or administrative expenses.