Karim Hutson, founder and managing partner of Genesis Cos.
By Joshua Burd
A developer has kicked off a $20 million rehabilitation of a 180-unit former public housing complex in East Orange, under a partnership with the city’s housing authority.
Genesis Cos. announced this week that renovations are underway at Vista Village Apartments, an affordable housing property for seniors and adults with disabilities. Located at 70 South Burnet St., the building will undergo moderate unit and common area improvements to address deferred maintenance and wear and tear, while receiving energy and critical systems upgrades.
All units in the project will be subsidized through the federal government’s Project-Based Section 8 program, which provides rental housing to low-income households in privately owned and managed rental units.
“This unique public-private partnership between Genesis and the East Orange Housing Authority to rehabilitate and maintain the long-term affordability of the Vista Village Apartments is a testament to our belief in affordable housing and the tremendous role it plays in New Jersey,” said Karim Hutson, founder and managing partner of Genesis Cos. “Our work with the East Orange Housing Authority furthers our mission of keeping urban communities accessible to everyone, and Vista Village allows us to preserve and provide quality housing for New Jersey’s senior population.”
Construction at the nine-story, fully leased building began in August and is expected to conclude by May 2019, Genesis said. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency originated the financing for the project under a conduit structure with Citibank, with additional financing including some $7 million in equity from the sale of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
The East Orange Housing Authority is also providing financing, while the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York’s Affordable Housing Program is providing $2.17 million.
“As former board chairman of the East Orange Housing Authority, I understand how important public-private partnerships are to the growth of quality affordable housing and I thank Genesis Companies for making such a critical investment in the city of East Orange,” Mayor Ted R. Green said. “Now, as mayor, I am looking forward to supporting and expanding partnerships like this one that will bring much-needed improvements to our housing for seniors and disabled.”
In a news release, Genesis said Vista Village was approved for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program. All units will be restricted to households earning 60 percent of area median income, while half will be restricted to households earning 50 percent.
“This is a historic milestone in the 60-plus year history of the East Orange Housing Authority,” said Wilbert Gill, the agency’s executive director. “This project, among many, continues our Building Homes, Changing Lives Campaign and an example of our mission in action to holistically enhance the quality of life through partnerships, social services and sustainable housing opportunities.
“Our partnership with Genesis and the city of East Orange is an example of accessing additional resources to strengthen capacity to expand our housing stock of affordable housing while improving the lives of our residents.”
Most residents will remain in their apartments during rehabilitation, the news release said, while a full array of support services will remain available to residents through the housing authority’s existing programs. Several units will be converted to meet the needs of residents with disabilities.