By Neil SchulmanLong Branch — The Long Branch Housing Authority has secured funding for the next phases of Woodrow Wilson Homes and the Gregory School senior housing project.
When completed, these will add more than 100 units of housing for the residents of the city. At a press conference last Thursday, Housing Authority officials said that they had received tax credits to continue with the next phases at Woodrow Wilson Homes, off Wardell Place, and Gregory School Apartments, off Joline Avenue. When the projects are completed, there will be significantly more housing than there was before the Long Branch Housing Authority began its renovations and expansions. “We’ve been on this journey for about six years now, trying to create the opportunity for new housing in the city of Long Branch,” Executive Director Tyrone Garrett said. When they started rebuilding old projects to modernize them, there were 643 units in the Long Branch Housing Authority. When the construction of the third phase of Woodrow Wilson and next part of the Gregory School (the former school building on Joline Avenue) are completed, there will be 746. Garrett said that the construction has not only provided housing, but helped the economy, providing “over 50 new jobs in the community.” He also said that with the Gregory School project alone more than $600,000 in equipment had been purchased from local businesses. While some of the money for the projects has come from grants, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Hope VI program, most has come from tax credits, where private investors get tax benefits in exchange for funding projects. In the last six years, Long Branch Housing Authority has been approved for nine different tax credits, in a program that one official said was “incredibly competitive” with agencies around New Jersey seeking the funds. The latest round of tax credits will bring nearly $30 million to complete the two projects, Garrett said. The first two phases of Woodrow Wilson Homes are nearing completion. Certificates of occupancy are expected to be issued in November for the first phase, and December for the second. When all three phases are done, there will be 174 units of housing. The old Woodrow Wilson Homes, demolished to make way for the updated units, contained 136 units. Garrett said they expect to complete work on the final phase by the end of 2014. Work on the first phase of Gregory School should wrap up in November. When the project is done, there will be 117 units of senior housing available. Garrett said that they had significant support from state and federal agencies, as well as the City of Long Branch, to make these projects possible. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work, but also a lot of cooperation,” he said. Expect to hear more plans that you might not associate with a housing authority. In the future, Garrett said that the Long Branch Housing Authority is looking at expanding the scope of its services “outside the normal housing authority model.”