Brick Renews Affordable Housing Contract

The Chambers Bridge Residence is difficult to see from the busy Chambers Bridge Road. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The township has renewed its contract with Homes Now Inc. to facilitate the implementation of its affordable housing obligation. Homes Now is a non-profit corporation that provides affordable housing and services to communities throughout New Jersey.

The non-profit organization built and operates the Chambers Bridge Residence at 175 Chambers Bridge Road (across from the post office), where some 184 affordable rental units are occupied by low-income senior citizens and disabled residents.

Earlier this summer, the governing body introduced an ordinance to sell the apartment building to Ohio-based National Church Residences (NCR) for $1,650,000, which was questioned by resident George Scott during the July 24 council meeting.

Scott asked why the property was being sold for only $1,650,000 when it was assessed at over $11 million.

Council Attorney Kevin Starkey said the township only owns the land, not the buildings themselves.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

“The township entered an agreement a number of years ago with the predecessor of Homes Now, Inc. where Homes Now would build those buildings and own and operate affordable housing on that site,” he said.

Starkey said it is true that the assessed value is roughly $11 million including the buildings, but the land is assessed at about $2 million.

NCR is the largest non-profit affordable housing owner and operator in the country, so they would be buying the property as a package, and the 184 units would continue as affordable housing units, he said.

“Since around 1992, the township has been getting rent of $1 per year, and when the sale is taking place, NCR wanted to continue that at $1 a year, they wanted to get the lease,” Starkey explained.

“We decided rather than rent it for $1 a year for the next 50 years, we would sell it for $1.65 million, which I think makes very good economic sense for the township and for the residents of the town,” the attorney said.

The affordable housing restrictions were set to expire in 2044, and NCR is bound to that by the lease. Starkey said the township has negotiated in the deed to extend the affordable housing restrictions for at least 40 more years.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

“They are bound to that by recorded document. We wanted to do that to make sure they weren’t going to do anything else with that property, and they’re not,” Starkey said. “So, it’s an extension of the original timeframe by about 15 years.”

The contract hasn’t been approved yet, and it would be on the council agenda sometime within the next several meetings, where the public would have the opportunity to comment before it is put up for a final vote.

Other affordable Brick properties provided by Homes Now include Dottie’s House for survivors of domestic violence; 12 apartments in Tudor Village for the intellectually disabled and for veterans; and about 35 single family homes scattered throughout the township.

Carol Wolfe is the founder and CEO of Homes Now Inc. and is married to NJ Assemblyman David W. Wolfe of the 10th Legislative District.

The next council meeting will be on Tuesday August 14 at 7 p.m.