By Joshua Burd
A new 78-unit affordable housing development is coming to Newark’s West Ward as part of a collaboration among state officials, private-sector builders and a key hospital in the city.
Citing the importance of quality housing and health care — and the links between them — the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency on Wednesday detailed an effort involving University Hospital and the joint venture of L+M Development Partners, Type A Projects and MSquared. With funding from both the state and the hospital, the development team will build new apartments on West Market Street for low- and moderate-income households, as well as homeless individuals and families that will benefit from on-site medical services.
It is latest project under the state’s new Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program, through which leading hospitals partner with experienced residential developers to provide affordable and supportive housing in their host communities.
“Access to housing and quality medical care are social determinants of overall health,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said. “This new partnership not only addresses homeless individuals’ lack of access to affordable housing, but it offers them lifesaving supportive services. This latest collaboration to develop housing opportunities for community members most in need will help break the cycle of homelessness in New Jersey.”
According to state officials, the partnership program stems from the recognition that access to quality housing is critical to maintaining good health and that hospitals are crucial anchor institutions well-positioned to advance housing in conjunction with health care. Under the program, HMFA matches funding contributions from participating hospitals to provide affordable apartments for low- and moderate-income families, as well as housing access to supportive and wrap-around services for residents with special needs.
Construction for the $41.4 million project near University Hospital is slated to begin this summer and be completed by the spring 2023.
“The Housing Partnership Subsidy Program promotes well-being through access to quality housing,” said Melanie R. Walter, HMFA’s executive director. “It works because ‘housing is health care.’ The University Hospital project demonstrates once more how this innovative program creates much-needed affordable and supportive housing by leveraging local institutional assets for community betterment.”
The agency said it will provide $22 million in mortgage financing for the development, along with $1.6 million from its Special Needs Housing Trust Fund. Capital sources also include $6 million from the Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program, $3 million from University Hospital and $300,000 in HOME funds from the city of Newark.
The developers are also seeking federal 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits under a federal program administered by HMFA, which generates private equity.
“From Downtown to the South and West Wards, our work relies on innovative public-private partnerships, and this is another great example of how government and the private sector can work together to address critical needs across the city,” said Jonathan Cortell, managing director at L+M Development Partners. “We’re deeply committed to working with the city’s institutional anchors, and proud to work with University Hospital on this project to deliver high-quality health care services and affordable housing in the West Ward.”
In a news release, stakeholders say the project will function as a gateway to University Hospital, enhancing the provider’s connection to the immediate area. It will occupy a portion of the property at 250 Georgia King Village on West Market Street, with a goal of also promoting economic diversity in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood.
HMFA noted that 16 of the 78 apartments will be reserved as supportive housing units for homeless individuals and families, which will be supported by project-based rental vouchers provided through the state Department of Community Affairs. The building will also receive 30 project-based rental vouchers from the Newark Housing Authority.
Additionally, all supportive units will be paired with access to medical services, the news release said. Other plans call for a ground-floor clinic and hospital office space operated in partnership with University Hospital, which will provide much-needed outpatient medical care to at-risk residents in the neighborhood.
“This partnership is a game-changer,” Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “In the future we are going to see more collaborations between housing developers, public health institutions and the communities they serve. By building safe, decent and affordable housing for at-risk residents, combining that with onsite supportive services and a community health care clinic, this collaboration breaks new ground.”
To date, the Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program has also yielded developments with St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson and RWJBarnabas Health in Newark.
“Supportive housing has never been a more critical component to the equation of health care than it is today, and we are pleased to join with our state and local partners to develop this project in the heart of Newark,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, CEO and president of University Hospital. “This initiative helps us lead into our long-term vision chipping away at upstream, social determinants of health. This also brings our campus closer to meeting the obligations of the Newark Agreements, created in the wake of a different period of racial tension and rededicating this hospital to its community.”
This week’s announcement included praise from several other stakeholders:
Jill Crawford, co-founder and principal of Type A Projects:
“Type A is excited to be a part of this timely public-private initiative prioritizing community health and wellness alongside affordable and supportive housing. It is a privilege to partner with the University Hospital, NJHMFA and the city of Newark to create new community resources for positive health outcomes and access to affordable homes.”
Alicia Glen, founder and managing principal of MSquared:
“Now more than ever is the time to invest in projects that create quality affordable housing options and healthy communities. Thank you to the state and city for their support and University Hospital for their collaboration on this important project that will benefit all residents of the Fairmont neighborhood.”
Justin Scheid, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Newark field office director:
“There is a clear nexus between health and housing, and this collaboration will provide critical affordable and supportive housing to Newark residents. The University Hospital project brings together efforts from federal, state, and local entities for the good of New Jersey residents. It is a testament to and model for successful public/private partnerships in the affordable housing industry.”