Nonprofit Tackles Affordable Housing Crisis

Coastal Woods in Barnegat is nearing completion and integrates affordable housing condominiums with those available at market rates. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  OCEAN COUNTY – A local nonprofit is nearing its third decade in working to provide affordable housing options in today’s challenging market.

  Homes Now Inc. is an affordable housing administrator and developer, headquartered in Brick. The group strives to bring hope to individuals and families facing housing crises.

  The organization’s late founder, Carol A. Wolfe, was seen as a visionary who worked to help those in need. She also understood that court rulings known as the Mount Laurel decisions included mandates related to affordable housing within municipalities.

  “Carol was actually working for the Township of Brick when the subject of affordable housing came to light,” said Casey Duffy, Assistant Executive Director of Homes Now Inc. “It became too much for her to do as a township employee, so Carol branched out and decided to create a non-profit to develop affordable housing options.”

  While addressing Brick’s needs was important, Wolfe also focused her energy on another critical issue. Dottie’s House continues to fall under the Homes Now umbrella, as a short term shelter for women and children displaced as a result of domestic violence.

  Wolfe’s commitment to provide affordable housing apparently caught fire in Brick. The township subsidizes rents for the occupants of Tudor Village, a complex containing twelve one- and two-bedroom units.

Coastal Woods in Barnegat is nearing completion and integrates affordable housing condominiums with those available at market rates. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  Only veterans and individuals with special needs are eligible to live in Tudor Village. All units are currently occupied and are considered affordable housing units.

  “We follow guidelines by HUD that are reviewed and issued by the affordable housing professionals of New Jersey to determine eligibility based on income,” said Duffy. “Right now, we’re still using the 2022 numbers because HUD hasn’t released the 2023 numbers.”

  A single person earning under $42,915 is considered low income under the current guidelines. Moderate income for a sole individual is up to $68,665. For a family of four to qualify for low income housing, their income cannot exceed $61,308. Moderate income for a family of four cannot exceed $98,092.

  Homes Now’s inventory includes 32 scattered single family affordable homes in Brick. An additional 7 single low and moderate affordable homes have been built in Stafford. All of the single family homes are currently owner occupied.

  “If any of these homeowners wanted to sell, they would come to us,” Duffy shared. “We would then find another income restricted individual or family to purchase the home from them.”

  Chambers Bridge Residence in Brick offers affordable housing for individuals over the age of 55 in an apartment setting. Although Homes Now developed and owned the property, Chambers Bridge is now part of a group known as the National Church Residences.

  According to Duffy, the organization is almost finished with Phase I of the Coastal Woods project in Barnegat. Plans for the construction of the over 55 condominium development were delayed during COVID because of material shortfalls.

Located in Brick, Tudor Village is a 12 unit affordable housing complex for veterans and individuals with special needs. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  “We do have some affordable units already sold and committed to,” said Duffy. “We’re probably looking at mid-June or early July for the first people to actually move in.”

  According to Duffy, the affordable and market rate units are integrated and not in separate buildings. Those who qualify for affordable units can expect to pay $140K for a one bedroom home or $170K for two bedrooms. Market rate units range from $289K to $369K.

  Homeowner association fees for Coastal Woods are $334 monthly, with Homes Now subsidizing the affordable units with $100 monthly for the first two years of occupancy. Among the included amenities on the premises is a clubhouse with a gym. Coastal Woods does not have a swimming pool.

  Homes Now Inc. has also developed supportive housing units in both Brick and Stafford. These types of housing opportunities were previously referred to as group homes.

  “In Brick, we worked closely with the ARC and Enable Inc. for these homes,” Duffy explained. “In Stafford, we worked with Community Options. We build and construct the home and handle the funding. When everything is done and completed, we hand it over to the service providers.”

  While most of Homes Now’s properties are located in Ocean County, the organization also has affordable rental units in Atlantic City and Pennsauken.