Federal, state, county and local officials joined executives from a Massachusetts developer and the non-profit Soldier On to celebrate the start of construction on a $23 million, 70-unit apartment community in Tinton Falls, N.J.
The gathering was held in Tinton Falls' Liberty Park on Sept. 12.
There, the group heard details of the new Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Village to be built for former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including vets transitioning from homelessness.
The project will feature a four-story building with 70 one-bedroom apartments that will be available at a range of income levels — 18 units will be available to individuals earning up to 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI); 24 will be designated at 50 percent of AMI; 10 at 60 percent of AMI, and 18 at 80 percent AMI.
Construction of the Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Village will be directed by Boston-based WinnDevelopment, the development arm of WinnCompanies.
Soldier On, an organization serving homeless veterans since 1994, will provide residents at The Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Village with comprehensive services, including case management and wellness support, workforce assistance, benefits assessment and application assistance, legal services, transportation, telehealth, daily meals and many ancillary support programs.
"There are more than 400,000 veterans in New Jersey and thousands of them are disabled, homeless or in need of the support that will improve their quality of life," said WinnCompanies CEO Gilbert Winn. "We're pleased to partner with Soldier On, with the support of state and local officials, to deliver this much deserved assistance and bring this important project to life. Communities that combine high quality apartments with on-site expert services are a focus for our company and something that we expect to develop more of in the years ahead."
His comments were echoed by Bruce Buckley, CEO of Soldier On.
"We want to thank all the many elected officials and the many other supporting contributors in New Jersey who have made this possible," he said. "Soldier On will offer extensive services to the veterans living at the Tinton Falls property. A caring community will be created to offer not only the high-quality housing, but most importantly a supported environment of men and women who can offer support to one another."
The wooded 12-acre site for the housing project was donated by the Borough of Tinton Falls.
Amenities planned for the development include a community room, offices, mail area, common laundry and an exterior courtyard with benches and grills.
V.J. Scozzari & Sons Inc., of Pennington, N.J., will serve as the general contractor and PS&S Architecture & Engineering, of Cherry Hill, N.J., is the facility's architect and civil engineer. Gibbons P.C. will serve as local counsel.
"This development will give many veterans their first decent place to live and prosper in years with vital services that can have a life-changing impact," said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who serves New Jersey's 4th Congressional District. "Because of federal, state and local public and private partnership, we are making progress, but there are 37,000 homeless vets on the street on any given night. That number remains unconscionably high. We have more to work to do."
The $23 million project is supported by several entities, including the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), which will provide construction and permanent financing from the Agency Revenue Bond Financing Program and a subsidy mortgage loan commitment from the NJHMFA's Multifamily Rental Housing Production Fund.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) also has awarded 18 Housing Choice Project-Based Vouchers to the project to aid homeless veterans.
"We have a moral obligation to take care of our soldiers when they complete their service to our country, some of whom will have lifelong mental and physical health challenges as a result. Providing them accessible, decent, safe and clean housing with the supportive services they require is one of the ways we can help ensure they live the quality of life they deserve," said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as commissioner of DCA.
Expected to be ready for occupancy by October 2021, the community is named for the late Gordon H. Mansfield, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who served as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as well as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equality Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
The project will be Soldier On's seventh housing facility for veterans and its first-ever supportive services housing development In New Jersey, where it already manages several programs for veterans. The non-profit also works with veteran communities in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.
"This project reflects the commitment of the Soldier On staff, on the ground in New Jersey and throughout the organization to serve veterans who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Soldier On has been addressing the needs of the at-risk veterans in New Jersey through its VA-sponsored programming by providing a vast array of services. These services include providing access to quality housing via rental and security deposit assistance, negotiating with landlords, transportation, accessing benefits and services and many other supporting programs," Buckley said.
WinnResidential, the property management arm of WinnCompanies, will manage The Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Village in collaboration with Soldier On.