Toms River complex to help Sandy victims
Superstorm Sandy recovery funding is contributing to the construction of a 72-apartment complex in Toms River that will cater to Sandy victims as well as individuals with special needs, just one of many affordable housing projects in line for federal dollars.
The project, dubbed Freedom Village, was spearheaded by the nonprofit Project Freedom Inc., which seeks to create ways for individuals with special needs to live independent lives.
Wednesday's groundbreaking for the $21 million facility was attended by families, local government officials, financiers, and state Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable.
Set for completion in summer 2015, Project Freedom will consist of six two-story buildings with 14 one-bedroom, 40 two-bedroom, and 18 three-bedroom units. It also will provide a social service coordinator to facilitate supportive services to individuals with special needs and their families. Eighteen units in the facility will be set aside for individuals with special needs.
Similar housing has been built in Robbinsville, Hamilton, Lawrence, Woodstown, and Hopewell.
The Freedom Village project received $5 million in federal Sandy aid and a $4 million investment from state tax credit resources.
Constable said there are currently around 80 projects underway that are designed to create affordable rental units in the wake of Sandy, "and every project has a different focus, so this one is focused on individuals with special needs as well as working families."
The DCA has reserved more than $600 million in federal Sandy recovery funding for its rental initiative, with earmarks made for various programs.
"Over the next three to four years we will create, in total, 11,000 units from leveraging the resources we receive from HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)," Constable said.
The commissioner said Sandy damaged around 17,000 rental units across the state, displacing thousands of individuals -- many with limited financial means.
"So what we want to do is replenish the affordable housing stock," Constable said. "We don't want these individuals, many of whom have no place to stay, to have no place to go."
During the first three months of lease-up of Freedom Village, priority will be given to Sandy-impacted individuals who registered for federal assistance or whose homes were no longer habitable because of Sandy damage.