NEWARK, NJ — About 70 affordable rental apartments will be created in Newark's South Ward as part of a new collaboration between RWJBarnabas Health, Pennrose, LLC, the City of Newark, and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), the Murphy administration announced on Monday.
“This new collaboration with RWJBarnabas Health is going to create dozens of homes for our most vulnerable residents while building upon the redevelopment that is already happening in the South Ward," said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who also serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and chair of the NJHMFA board.
The Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program recognizes housing as a key variable to maintain good health and the role of hospitals as anchor institutions in the community. Under the program, NJHMFA matches funding contributions from participating hospitals to provide rental apartments affordable for low- and moderate-income families, as well as apartments for special needs residents.
The collaboration with RWJBarnabas Health will result in the creation of 65-70 rental apartments two blocks from its Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. The apartments will be for residents earning an average of 60% of the area median income. A number of apartments will provide homes for homeless individuals and families, paired with access to medical services.
"We have received tremendous interest in the program throughout the state. As a result, we have already expanded our plans for this program and the holistic approach it embraces to ensure a healthier New Jersey," NJHMFA Executive Director Charles A. Richman said.
The project by RWJBarnabas Health and developer Pennrose LLC would be located in the 977 block of Bergen Street in the city’s South Ward. The new six-story building will include efficiencies, and one- to three-bedroom apartments.
Pennrose is expected to apply to the state Department of Community Affairs for project-based rental vouchers to subsidize the cost for the homeless individuals and families who will be part of this development. The ground floor will include healthy food retail options, as well as other commercial and program space to enable RWJBarnabas Health and its affiliates to provide services to the community.
The site is part of the South Bergen Redevelopment Area, and is close to retail shops and restaurants, schools, a public library and medical offices. NJ Transit buses run along Bergen Street, connecting to Newark Penn Station and downtown Newark.
The $25.7 million project would include $3.04 million in mortgage financing from NJHMFA, $1.5 million from its Special Needs Housing Trust Fund, as well as $4 million from its hospital program to be matched by RWJBarnabas Health. Construction is expected to begin in July 2020 with completion in September 2021.
“Ensuring that all individuals have access to safe, stable and affordable housing is a critical component to build healthier communities,“ said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “RWJBarnabas Health and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center have worked diligently with our partners to develop systems that address social issues such as food security, community safety, workforce development and enhancing the capacity of local vendors within Newark. The Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program allows us to extend our commitment to residents within the South Ward.”
The project developer is also seeking 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are administered by NJHMFA and will generate private equity. “Pennrose is thrilled to be working with RWJBarnabas Health and NJHMFA at this important nexus between health care and housing,” said Jacob Fisher, Regional Vice President for Pennrose."
This project addresses "a major issue for our administration – providing our residents with quality affordable housing," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said, "Particularly our homeless individuals and families who are most at-risk. We applaud the development of this initiative and are pleased to be taking another step towards ensuring that our community is more empowered and healthier.”
The Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program was unveiled in 2018 with an initial $12 million to fund four hospital partnerships. The program has bow been expanded to provide $30 million toward seven to eight partnerships. The first partnership, with St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson, was announced in 2019.