Ground Breaks on Low-Income and Veterans Affordable Housing in N.J.

Newark, N.J.--Work has gotten underway on the Newark Clinton Avenue Homes, a project that will bring 56 affordable housing apartments for low-income and veteran families in Newark, N.J.'s South Ward.

Newark, N.J.–Work has gotten underway on the Newark Clinton Avenue Homes, a project that will bring 56 affordable housing apartments for low-income and veteran families in Newark, N.J.’s South Ward.

HELP USA Inc. is behind the development of the apartment community, also known as the HELP USA Genesis II Urban Renewal Project, and Del-Sano Contracting Corp. is onboard as general contractor. Carrying the address of 634 Clinton Ave., the property will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, as well as a list of amenities that includes a community room, a lounge, an exercise facility, a computer room, offices and a children’s playroom.

Kramer Marks Architects designed the four-story building that will meet qualifications for LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council through the use of low-emissions products and building materials, the development of a vegetative green roof and the incorporation of a host of other sustainable elements.

Clinton Avenue will be open to individuals and families with annual earnings at or below 50 percent of the area median income, and to disabled veterans, an oft-overlooked segment of the country’s low-income population. “Affordable housing is essential in New Jersey; it is particularly critical for the military veterans in our community,” Lori Grifa, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, notes in a prepared statement. “Sadly, many veterans suffer from physical disabilities, mental illness, and drug and alcohol abuse, which can impede independent living and result in homelessness. The HELP Clinton Avenue Homes project is doing something about this cruel reality.”

Of the apartment community’s 56 residences, a minimum of 14 will be designated for disabled veterans, and as many as seven will be reserved for veterans and their families.

“This has been a great undertaking for us,” Angelo Del Russo, CEO of Del-Sano, tells MHN. “I grew up near the Clinton Hill neighborhood, so that made it special for us. And when we were brought on the project four or five months ago, we talked about the fact that it would be affordable workforce housing for veterans of the armed services and people who may have been formerly homeless and could use the boost of affordable housing, and that made it special for us, too. And on top of it, the housing will be built based on LEED principles.”

Clinton Avenue, Del Russo adds, will have a positive impact on all of Newark’s inner city. “This is going to help Newark get back on its feet,” he says. “Newark has a bad rap, so to speak. People talk about the jobless rate, the low income, the crime rate. And it’s true; there is crime. But despite all that, local developers still have faith and can bring the neighborhood back. People who may want to come back and people in the area who are living in older buildings, if given the opportunity, may want to step that up and move into a building that is safer and has a better quality of construction. We’re going to hire a lot of construction workers for the project and maybe a percentage of them will say, ‘I built that place,’ and want to move there. They’re going to have some pride. There will be a sense of home. The building will create a positive environment, a community that is more livable and vibrant.”

To finance the development of Clinton Avenue, HELP USA relied on assistance from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, which awarded HELP USA $1.67 million in 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will yield approximately $11.7 million in equity. Del-Sano is on track to wrap up construction in time for the apartment building’s debut on February 1, 2012.

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