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NJHMFA Helps Kick Off Final Phase of Redevelopment in Camden

Published on February 12, 2020 by New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
NJHMFA Helps Kick Off Final Phase of Redevelopment in Camden

New Community Will Provide Affordable Homes for Seniors

CAMDEN, NJ – A groundbreaking today, attended by New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) executive staff, kicked off construction of 58 affordable apartments for seniors, which is the last phase of the redevelopment of a former public housing site in the city’s Centerville neighborhood.

Phase four of The Branches at Centerville will complete the comprehensive revitalization of the site of the former Clement T. Branch Village. The former Branch Village was built in 1941 and named for Dr. Clement T. Branch, who was a prominent doctor and the first African American to serve on the Camden school board. The development featured blocks of brick apartment buildings which eventually became severely dilapidated and obsolete public housing. The new development will include 58 one-bedroom apartments in a three-story building for residents age 55+ earning up to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). 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.

“The completion of this redevelopment and its replacement of obsolete public housing will be a major milestone for the residents and community, and will provide safe, modern, affordable homes for all the residents,” said NJHMFA Executive Director Charles A. Richman. “NJHMFA is proud to join this redevelopment through the award of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are an invaluable tool in creating affordable housing in New Jersey.”

NJHMFA awarded the $15.9 million development very 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. NJHMFA is the state’s sole administrator of the program. 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 all of the residents who can opt to return to the new apartments once completed.

The Centerville neighborhood has a long history in Camden. Close to the river and transportation, it was an area of early growth and development. The groundbreaking marks the continued revitalization of the neighborhood, which has seen residential improvements, and the larger city of Camden.

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 provided or will provide nearly 600 affordable housing opportunities. Most recently, NJHMFA joined Michaels in October 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.

The Michaels Organization, based in Camden, has created high-quality, environmentally conscious and financially successful communities that offer affordable housing opportunities to more than 100,000 residents.

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.