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Nov. 16, 2012

‘Wow’ the Word for N.J. Program Saluting Veterans’ Service

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Piscataway, N.J.—Villas at Piscataway, a Piscataway, N.J., mixed-use development, has unveiled a unique initiative to make its luxury apartments affordable for military veterans. When completed in 2014, it will offer 84 affordable apartments, 40 percent of which will be for veterans and their families.

The community currently has 21 affordable units developed, with rents 30 percent lower than others in the development.

The program was initiated by Jack Morris, president of Edgebrook Properties, a 20-year-old Piscataway-based family business headed by Morris and his wife Sheryl. Jack Morris has gone on record decrying the fact that New Jersey’s cost of living precludes many veterans from living in the state. But it isn’t just lip service from Morris. He has vowed to help address the situation.

“Jack Morris has headed a very successful business, and he and his wife Sheryl have consistently given back to their community, through such efforts as the building of homes for individuals with developmental disabilities,” Mark Mauriello, Edgewood Properties’ director of environmental affairs and planning, tells MHN. “In this project, we are satisfying a portion of the town’s obligation to develop low- and moderate-income housing.

“Based on his concern about veterans trying to find housing, employment and treatment, Jack decided to dedicate this affordable housing to veterans,” says Mauriello.

Out of 166 rental units that will eventually come online at Villas at Piscataway, the 84 affordable units represent 16 more than required, Mauriello says.

“People have asked us, ’How do you know there are enough veterans who want this?’” he adds. “We’re going to market these 84 units to veterans and non-veteran households meeting the income eligibility requirements set by New Jersey. We believe there are sufficient needs in the veteran community that we will indeed have 40 percent of those 84 apartments filled by veterans.”

The apartments are one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans to be integrated into each of four buildings that will be constructed in the community. Currently, one of the four buildings has been built and has opened to residents.

Each of the apartments at Villas at Piscataway will feature luxury amenities such as loft-like ceilings, walk-in closets and deluxe kitchens. Common area amenities include a clubhouse and swimming pool.

Morris intends for the clubhouse to host veterans’ meetings and speakers, and be used for informational fairs in which veterans will be able to connect with service providers, and with officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It is amazing that the owner of this project is willing to do this without being pushed and prodded,” says Jack Fanous, executive director of the GI Go Fund in Newark, which provides services to returning veterans. “It’s actually pretty incredible when you think about it. I’ve never seen this done before. Wow.”

Adds Piscataway mayor Brian C. Wahler: “Offering affordable housing to veterans at Villas at Piscataway is a unique opportunity to let our veterans know, in a tangible way, how much their service is long remembered and much appreciated.”

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