BERKELEY – The township donated property for two new homes that will be built for families needing a safe place to live.
Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity partners with families living in substandard housing who are looking for a “hand-up, not a hand-out” in owning their first home. The parents will be side by side with construction workers, putting “sweat equity” into their house.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Habitat for Humanity in providing affordable workforce housing,” Mayor Carmen Amato said.
Rent and other expenses tie up a family’s income, making home ownership an almost impossible dream. While this provides an immediate help for a family, it serves a long-term goal as well. Children raised in a safe home are more likely to succeed. They are more likely to have the foundation to be in a better place when they start their own families, and so on. It’s because of this, that the assistance is truly generational. One family is helped now, but the impact will be felt by their grandchildren.
Bob Conway, Habitat’s construction director, said the plan is to break ground in the spring.
The property is designated as Block 38, Lot 134 and Block 46, Lot 110. This is next to land the township owns in Manitou Park.
The town is also giving a $250,000 donation ($125,000 per lot) to help Habitat defray the costs. This money comes from Berkeley’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The township’s affordable housing trust fund is fueled by a 1% charge on all new residential development and a 2.5% commercial surcharge assessed to the valuation of new construction in the township. No tax dollars are used.
The town then uses that money to increase the amount of affordable housing in town. By state law, a certain percentage of residences in every town have to be deemed “affordable,” based on the average income of the residents.
Berkeley has met and exceeded the number the state requires, Amato said, however, this donation is not about meeting a quota. “Whenever we have an opportunity to build workforce housing with Habitat, we do it.”
“The partnership between Berkeley Township and Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity has helped Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they needed to build a better life for themselves and their families,” said Kristine Novakowski, Executive Director of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity. “With the lack of affordable land to purchase and the extraordinary demand for affordable housing, I reached out to Mayor Amato for help. He responded quickly by identifying several lots of land for us to develop. We are very grateful for the opportunity to be back in Manitou to build two new Habitat homes. By working together, Berkeley Township and Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, are helping to build a strong and stable community.”
Over the years, Berkeley has donated three lots for homes and has given Habitat $500,000 in Affordable Housing Trust Funds to help fund a total of four homes.
Habitat recently opened the door to their 21st home in Ocean County in Manchester. Last year, they opened their 20th home, which was on Grand Central Parkway in the Pinewald section of Berkeley, on land donated to them as part of an estate.
How To Help
Habitat will host the 6th Annual Walk To Build fundraiser on the Lavallette boardwalk on September 17 (rain date September 24). More details will be released on this event as it approaches.
Shopping at the ReStore located at 1214 Route 37 East in Toms River helps support their mission.
Volunteers, sponsorships, and donations are always welcome at northernoceanhabitat.org.