By Maddy Vitale
The Ocean City Housing Authority and the City have entered into a shared services agreement that will help to finance a 34-unit affordable housing complex for seniors.
City Councilman Bob Barr, who serves as chairman of the authority’s board, could not vote on the matter due to being on Council, but he did express his feelings on the agreement during the authority’s meeting Tuesday.
“I want to thank the mayor (Jay Gillian) and my fellow councilmates for making this agreement possible,” Barr said. “This is unprecedented in this state and possibly in America. The generosity of the city and the mayor in particular, deserve gratitude for what they are doing for the housing authority and most importantly, the residents.”
The authority went into closed session to discuss details of the resolution for a shared services agreement. After about 20 minutes, the members voted in favor of working with the city on the plan.
The city is giving the housing authority $1.8 million to help finance the project, according to the resolution. The original plan called for 20 units with an estimated cost of $4.4 million, funded by a Hurricane Sandy grant. Now, those two sources of funding will be combined to finance the 34-unit complex.
The authority concluded that there is a need for more units and it would be more cost effective to construct the additional units now, rather than wait. The only problem was the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency (HMFA) would not approve the expanded project unless additional funding became available.
That is where the city came in.
The project for 34 units is part of a broader plan for the city to meet its affordable housing obligations. In July, a settlement agreement between the city and the Fair Share Housing Center was entered into, which was approved by City Council by resolution that same month.
After the 34-unit project is completed, it is anticipated that the authority and the city will enter into another shared services agreement.
The second agreement would be for the construction of 40 units of affordable housing for low-income families at Peck’s Beach Village north and 20 affordable family rental units at Peck’s Beach Village south, according to the resolution.
The authority will have to seek new construction bids for the expanded 34-unit project, which will be named in honor of the late housing authority Commissioner Ed Speitel.
In an interview, Barr said he anticipates construction will begin at year’s end and be completed by Christmas of 2019.
The Ocean City Housing Authority uses federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide affordable housing for low-income senior citizens, families and the disabled at its Peck’s Beach Village and Bayview Manor facilities.
Peck’s Beach Village also includes a 40-unit complex for low-income families. That part of Peck’s Beach will remain open after the new project is built because it sits on slightly higher land than the senior citizens complex and does not flood as much.
For more information about the Ocean City Housing Authority visit www.oceancityha.org or call (609) 399-1062.