OCEAN Inc. Receives Federal Funds to Start Tucker’s Walk, a Low-Income Veterans Housing Project

Nov 07, 2018

Ocean Community Economic Action Now, or OCEAN Inc., a nonprofit community action agency serving Ocean County since 1965, has been awarded a federal grant to help start the Tucker’s Walk low-income housing for veterans and the disabled in Tuckerton borough. CEO Channell Wilkins said the amount will allow the development of the first four units to be built on the site of the old RCA building off Route 9 in the vicinity of Paradise Cove.

The N.J. Department of Community Affairs administers the federal Housing Trust Fund grant. OCEAN was informed of the $673,271 award on Friday, Nov. 2

Wilkins said on Monday the project, which was approved in April 2017 by the Tuckerton planning board, consists of up to 24 rental units in six pods of four units each, and each pod will be built as more funding becomes available.

The project has all the permits it needs; however, it must do a new environmental study for the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection.

OCEAN Inc. will retain ownership and stewardship of the land and apartments and will provide laundry facilities and a community center.

When the project was first announced in the media, the nonprofit received a number of inquiries asking for applications.

“We will go through those first and see if the people are still interested and then accept more applications from local veterans and the disabled and then cast a net out from there,” said Wilkins. “I don’t think we will have any problem filling the first four units or the rest as the need is so great,” he said.

Besides OCEAN Inc., four other New Jersey organizations were awarded funds that total $3.1 million to create rental housing for extremely low-income individuals and families with special needs. Funding for the housing units comes from Housing Trust Fund dollars the state receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The projects that were selected and awarded funds by DCA will help some of our most vulnerable citizens find high-quality, safe housing,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, commissioner of the N.J. Department of Community Affairs. “Providing affordable housing to low-income persons with special needs is a critical part of the equation for reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness in New Jersey. These awarded projects will have a positive effect on the quality of life of disadvantaged people in our state.”

The five grantees in three different counties will be renovating and constructing a total of 16 rental units for individuals with extremely low-income levels and special needs. Among the recipients of the grants are The Sierra House and LUA Homes in Essex County, Reformed Church of Highland Park and Coming Home of Middlesex County in Middlesex County, and Ocean Community Economic Action Now in Ocean County.

The Housing Trust Fund program provides up to $400,000 in subsidy per unit (based on need and bedroom size). The maximum per project award is $700,000. The funds will be used by grantees for acquisition, construction, renovation, reconstruction and demolition for their new construction or reconstruction projects.

DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources has committed some of its own funding for this initiative by contributing project-based rental assistance vouchers to the selected projects when they are complete.

The HTF was established in 2008 after Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act. This is the second time DCA has received HTF dollars for affordable housing production. In 2017, DCA awarded HTF funds to six developers for projects that are currently underway that will benefit approximately 25 households that include individuals with special needs. —P.J.

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