JCHA ready to vote on Holland Gardens plan that includes homeownership, on-site resources

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The Jersey City Housing Authority is ready to vote on a preliminary plan for the Holland Gardens complex that includes homeownership, on-site resources, and more, Executive Director Vivian Brady-Phillips said today.

“In prior examples, the housing authority has successfully done low to moderate home ownership. We have the Dwight Street Home: 50 two families developed in Ward F,” she said during a small press briefing in Mayor Steven Fulop’s conference room today.

“And so we’re going to be working with a variety of partners, an opportunity to get down payment assistance, and use the market rate to help us provide those affordable homes.”

The JCHA Board of Commissioners will vote on a plan to “explore the development” of the Holland Gardens at their 6 p.m. meeting this evening, which includes 192 public housing rental units, a new library branch, and a resident services unit.

Phillips and Fulop both emphasized several times that despite residents concerns of being forced out of the complex, as they said during a JCHA meeting 14 months ago, that they will ensure that residents have a right to return.

“The assumption has always been that those people will be displaced and unfortunately not have the opportunity to return and people assume the worst. I think what Vivian has tried to do over the last [few] years is have the strongest right to return policy anywhere, right?,” the mayor noted.

” … Where we’re moving forward is the right to return for every single person who wants to from there is going to be set: we’re returning 192 units and adding a home ownership and library component as well.”

Brady-Phillips also indicated that a developer hasn’t been selected yet, with a request for proposals expected to go out in early 2021, and that applying for home ownership and/or right to return would be two separate processes.

Since there is no developer yet, the cost for the project and for each individual unit aren’t available yet, she added, along with the fact that residents wont be relocated by the JCHA until the summer of 2022.

Nevertheless, plans for the amenities appear to be further along.

The proposed new onsite Jersey City Free Public Library branch will offer an array of community-focused educational, cultural, and employment resources.

The new library at the redeveloped Hollands Gardens site would house community meeting space and a Resident Services Office to be staffed by the JCHA’s Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement (RECE) Department, which currently works with over 40 community partners to provide needed resources to JCHA residents.

Through its direct services and partnerships, JCHA’s RECE Department connects residents to resources and programming, including after school/ youth development, employment assistance, digital inclusion, food security, and support for senior/disabled residents.   

The redevelopment would also include commercial space for a supermarket, bank, or similar commercial entity to benefit residents.

Brady-Phillips also said that the JCHA serves about 15,000 residents, including their Section 8 and Public Housing program.