HMFA Closes Record Number of Affordable Housing Developments in 2008 Despite Economic Downturn
By Joseph Doria, Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and Chairman of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency board, and Marge Della Vecchia, Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
Tough economic times didn’t stop the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) from financing a record number of affordable housing developments in 2008. On the contrary, it made the agency more determined to provide the state’s hardworking individuals and families with good, safe housing.
The HFMA, an affiliate of the state Department of Community Affairs, closed on 69 developments last year, producing more than 3,344 affordable homes for people who are struggling now more than ever to make ends meet. To put last year’s record breaking accomplishment into perspective, consider this: the HMFA closed on 57 projects to provide 2,531 new affordable housing units in 2007, and just six years ago created 1,034 affordable homes after closing on 26 developments.
Last year’s numbers prove the HMFA is truly heeding Governor Corzine’s call to dramatically increase the amount of affordable homes across the state and spur economic development in New Jersey’s communities through housing projects.
One such affordable housing project the HMFA helped finance in 2008 is The Toy Factory Apartments in Jersey City, Hudson County. Developers took a toy factory that had been vacant for 10 years in the city’s Greenville section and converted it into a multi-family complex of 46 apartments that feature oversized rooms, high ceilings, spectacular views, wood floors and Energy Star appliances. The building promises to be a key component in the neighborhood’s enhancement.
Other examples of developments the agency helped fund last year include Buena Gardens Senior Apartments, a 78-unit senior citizen apartment complex in Buena Borough, Atlantic County, that offers a variety of social services to its residents, and Creekside, a 32-unit townhouse apartment community in Medford, Burlington County, that boasts a laundry list of amenities like balconies and full kitchen appliance packages.
The HMFA has not rested on its accomplishments but has striven year after year to increase its productivity and its value as a central resource for affordable housing development in the state. This steadfast dedication to the affordable housing mission will continue in 2009, a year in which the HMFA looks forward to overcoming looming economic obstacles to provide New Jersey residents with even more affordable homes.
To reach its goal, the HMFA will continue to finance a variety of projects for rental, special needs, and homeownership housing in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout the state. Last year, for example, the agency funded 1,360 affordable rental housing units for families, 935 units for senior citizens, and 230 units for people with such special needs as homelessness, mental illness, developmental disabilities and visual impairments. Through the work of the HMFA, another 819 affordable units were either protected from losing their affordability controls or renovated after decades of operation. Additionally, the agency invested over $36 million under its CHOICE Program in 2008 to help develop more than 270 newly constructed and significantly rehabilitated homeownership units in New Jersey. The CHOICE Program offers subsidy funding and below-market interest rate loans for developers who build in the state’s emerging market and smart growth areas.
The agency also supports affordable housing through its mortgage and “Live Where You Work” programs. Last year, the HMFA invested more than $326 million to purchase a record 1,801 single-family mortgages for first-time homebuyers. The agency also administered the purchase of 1,320 mortgages through its Police and Fire Mortgage Program, amounting to more than $384 million in loans. The numbers illustrate how strong the demand is in New Jersey for good quality, sustainable mortgages. The agency offers 30-40 year, fixed rate mortgages, which often feature below market rate interest rates. It also boasts a less than 2 percent foreclosure rate because it doesn’t purchase adjustable rate mortgages or other non-traditional mortgage products. The HMFA doesn’t sell mortgages from its portfolio and manually underwrites the mortgages it purchases to ensure that borrowers actually have the ability to make their mortgage payments and stay in their homes over the long run.
The HMFA established “Live Where You Work,” a home mortgage incentive program that provides low-interest, fixed rate loans to homebuyers who purchase homes in the towns where they are employed, because it understands housing is essential to creating strong and healthy communities. Aside from making housing more affordable, the program is an antidote to such challenging issues as: rising pollution, increased commuting costs and declining civic investment and participation in communities. Since the initiative’s launch last spring, Trenton, Jersey City, Woodbridge, Elizabeth, Rahway, Atlantic City, Morristown and Evesham have formally entered the program. The agency and DCA commend these towns and encourage more to participate.
To learn more about these and other HMFA programs, please log on to http://www.nj.gov/dca/hmfa/ or call 609-278-7400.
The NJ Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency is dedicated to increasing the availability of and accessibility to safe, decent and affordable housing to families in New Jersey.