Newark organization begins construction on afforable housing project

Patti Sapone/The Star-LedgerNewark Mayor Cory Booker speaks at a press conference in this March 21 file photo. Booker called the building of the homes an "amazing resurgence."

NEWARK — La Casa de Don Pedro, one of Newark’s oldest community-development organizations, broke ground on affordable housing for 10 Newark families today in a part of town once synonymous with poverty and crime.

The Lower Broadway Stabilization Affordable Housing Development is the latest project to emerge as part of La Casa’s development program. It includes the construction of five detached, two-family townhouses throughout the lower Broadway area, as well as the rehabilitation of a one-family home.

"We’ve tackled most of the holes that were in the fabric of the neighborhood," said La Casa executive director, Ray Ocasio. For decades, La Casa has been focused on the north end and lower Broadway areas through a comprehensive, community-based approach that includes education, finance and housing.

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.

La Casa counseled buyers, many who will be first-time homeowners, on getting mortgages, being property owners and being landlords. The homes are expected to be finished within a year.

"It’s part of process of engaging people in all of life’s developments," Ocasio said after yesterday’s news conference. "The idea is to have a vibrant community that people will want to stay in."

Ocasio was joined by Mayor Cory Booker, at-Large councilman Carlos Gonzalez and Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif at the ground-breaking.

"La Casa deserves enormous credit," Sharif said, noting the group has helped turn around the Central Ward neighborhood once known best for the Columbus Homes, a crime-ridden, high-rise housing project.

"This is an amazing resurgence," Booker said, extolling the new approach to individual family homes, as opposed to the high-rises and complexes that characterized affordable housing throughout the 20th century. "We were creating large warehouses for poor people."

Related coverage:

• Newark’s La Casa De Don Pedro receives affordable housing grant

• Less affordable housing, higher rents in Newark since 2005, report finds

• N.J. appellate court tosses large portion of affordable-housing rules

Source Article