Posted on November 11th, 2010 No comments
With the snip of a pair of scissors, developer READS and the Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corp. marked the debut of a new supportive housing facility today. READS partnered with the church’s development arm to refit the vacant All Saints Episcopal Church building on South Third Street and Magnolia Avenue into an apartment building for homeless veterans. The building includes 10 studio apartments, and one two-bedroom apartment for a family.
Supportive housing arrangements provide comprehensive services to residents so that they can successfully live independently in the community. Such services might involve help with budgeting, or more extensive social services, depending on the specific needs of the person or family.
“While affordable housing focuses on helping people who might not have the means to buy their own home, supportive housing also considers the social services a family might need to experience a stable and productive life,” said Jeff Crum, director of real estate at READS. “Sometimes it’s serious issues that can lead to homelessness if they’re left unchecked; other times, it’s simply a need for a job or life skills training.”
The project received $1.8 million in funding from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Special Needs Housing Trust Fund, and another $1.1 million from the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Posted on October 25th, 2010 No comments
Originally uploaded by READS USA
READS is working with the Reformed Church of Highland Park on this supportive housing project for veterans. Stay tuned for more details on a ribbon cutting scheduled for Veterans Day 2010. Here the exterior work is nearing completion thanks in large part to the hard work of Jeff Crum, READS’ Director of Real Estate.
Posted on August 16th, 2010 No comments
By RICK MALWITZ • mycentraljersey.com • August 14, 2010
HIGHLAND PARK — A former church is undergoing a radical conversion, though instead of souls being converted here it is the bricks and mortar of the building itself. The former All Saints Episcopal Church on South Third Avenue that once housed a congregation is being converted into 11 housing units for veterans, with the targeted completion date of Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The project, known as “Bring Them Home to Homes,” is the work of the Reformed Church of Highland Park-Affordable Housing Corporation (RCHP-AHC). Though it will have a different mission than a place to worship, the building will still resemble a church. The steeple will remain, the entrance will remain, some of the stained glass will stay in place and inside the building a supporting arch has been incorporated into the new construction. The roof was raised to allow for construction of five second-floor apartments and an addition has been put at the rear of the former church to build a stairwell. However, the outside appearance is an unmistakable reminder of the building’s past.
“Our goal was to maintain the look of a church,” said Jeff Crum, vice president of Real Estate Advisory and Development Services of Metuchen, which is managing the project. The most difficult task, according to Crum, was removal of the trusses that held the old roof. It was discovered during the conversion that the original building, completed in 1931, was well constructed, with a firm foundation and an attention to detail. “For a small church it was quite ornate,” he said. One of the 21st century additions to the old church will be the solar panels on the roof.
The $3.1 million project is being funded by a loan from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Agency, a $700,000 grant from the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and a $400,000 federal grant. Though the corporation has been established as a nonsectarian effort — and it will serve veterans of all faiths — its mission is consistent with the Reformed Church historic thinking. “Who is going to help the homeless veterans?. We do it in a church way,” said Pat Kaufman, a member of the corporation’s board. “We ask, “What did Jesus care about?’ and then we do the work he would do.” This is an example how God can turn a sacred place into something that’s still sacred — places for veterans to live with dignity,” said Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor of the Reformed Church.
The corporation’s first project was construction of Irayna Court, built atop the Reformed Church building’s, located behind the South Second Avenue church. It provides six units of housing for women between 18 and 21 who have aged-out of the foster-care system. The veterans who will be offered housing here will be selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Their rent will be equal to 30 percent of their income, and their stay will be open-ended.
The residents will be entitled to the services of the VA hospital in Lyons and will have on-site case management and through University Behavioral Health Care of UMDNJ. Ten of the apartments are studio apartments. The three on the first floor will have 15-foot ceilings in half of the apartment. Three will be built in the basement, including one two bedroom apartment for a married veteran, his or her spouse and children.
The $3.1 million budget allows only for the construction of apartments with bare walls. A committee of board members has been established to solicit donations of items to furnish the apartments — from beds and dressers to utensils and coffee makers. “We want them to walk into the apartment and have everything they need waiting for them,” said Jacquelyn Juricic, who heads the committee seeking items and donations. In addition to furniture and kitchen utensils the committee is also seeking donations of money for gift cards to allow the veterans to give their apartment a personal touch. “We want them to have a beautiful space that’s theirs,” corporation board member Linda Lachesnez said.
The plan is to give the veterans roots in a community where they can walk to shopping have access to public transportation, while being grounded in one place, with a mailing address. Homelessness, Lachesnez said, “sucks the energy from you.” According to Victor Carlson, a psychologist and chief of homeless services for the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System, there are an estimated 3,500 homeless veterans in the state. According to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs an estimated 107,000 veterans were homeless on any given night in a survey conducted in 2009. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Bob Porter, quartermaster of VFW post 370 in New Brunswick, has followed the project here from its inception and he has only one regret. “I wish it was bigger,” he said. “I’m impressed what they’re doing. They want this to be a seed program, and interest other communities to do something similar,” said Porter, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Information about the project here, and how to make donations, is available on the web at www.helpinghomes.org.
Posted on May 1st, 2010 No comments
READS, in partnership with the Highland Park Reformed Church Affordable Housing Corp, is helping to restore a local vacant church into affordable housing for homeless veterans.