PATERSON, NJ - An affordable housing development project expected to take up to five years to complete had that timetable cut in half thanks to two city council resolutions passed on Tuesday.
The much maligned housing project site at Riverside Terrace was approved for demolition and reconstruction earlier this year. The new development is expected to be completed sometime in 2020, and will consist of 245 units of affordable housing including 80 for seniors and 165 for family housing.
Previously, the plan had been to split the construction into 2 phases, with 102 of the family housing units to be completed down the road. With the council’s decision, both phases will now be combined into one project, significantly cutting the completion time.
In a memo to the Council, Corporation Counsel Domenick Stampone wrote that the decision to combine phases was “due to complexities involving the financing of the project.
Director of the Paterson Housing Authority (PHA) Irma Gorman explained that the “resolution addresses the need for affordable housing in Paterson” and that the Council’s decision would be a vote of confidence in the PHA’s goal of providing that form of housing.
Councilman Luis Velez praised the PHA for its work in speeding up the timetable and bettering public housing in Paterson. Speaking directly to Gorman he added, “I commend you and the work that you’ve been doing there.”
The lone dissenter of the eight council members present was Councilman Michael Jackson. He cited constituents who have had issues with the Housing Authority and its ability to handle those concerns, stating that Gorman had “ignored his requests” for constituent assistance.
Additionally, Jackson took issue with what he sees as a plan to sell the 17-acre site to housing developer Roizman Developers for $3 million. He worried that Paterson residents are “being taken advantage of” by this deal.
Gorman countered Jackson’s claims regarding constituent issues stating that she had met with him to discuss his concerns and provided “pertinent information” upon request.
She also detailed the Housing Authority’s plan to negotiate the property transfer of ownership of the site for an unsettled upon amount in the $3 million range. Under this arrangement, ownership would return to the PHA after 15 years, which is different than the direct sale Jackson had alluded to.
The deal will now await funds for rent vouchers from the New Jersey Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) before it can begin demolition. Once that funding is acquired, the city will have to relocate the 150 residents still living in the old, dilapidated, housing projects. Gorman says that the Housing Authority has begun preliminary work and that this process would take approximately five months.