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Affordable Housing With a New Twist Coming to Ocean City

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Two of the duplexes are being built at 240-244 Haven Ave.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Attractive duplexes under construction in residential neighborhoods at the Jersey Shore don’t fit the usual description for “affordable housing.”

However, five new duplexes distinctly residential in nature will create a new type of affordable housing in Ocean City for families with low or moderate incomes.

“The idea was to have them blend in with the neighborhood. If you drive by, you won’t even notice them,” said Bob Barr, a city councilman who also serves as chairman of the Ocean City Housing Authority.

During their monthly board meeting Tuesday, housing authority officials reported that construction of the five duplexes is expected to be completed in September.

Altogether, the duplexes will offer 10 units of affordable rental housing. Each unit will have either two or three bedrooms.

Two duplexes are being built at 3300 Bay Ave. at the former American Legion post property, another two at 240-244 Haven Ave. and the fifth at 224 Simpson Ave. All of the duplexes will be close to the bay either in the north end or midsection of town.

To make the duplex at 224 Simpson Ave. even more appealing, the decision was made to save a towering tree on the property that has been a favorite sight for neighboring homeowners.

As construction continues on the five duplexes, the housing authority is accepting applications from would-be tenants through Aug. 5. Nearly 100 applications have been received so far, but the authority is hoping for more to ensure it will have enough people to meet the income requirements and other criteria for the homes.

“These houses are not subsidized. They are affordable houses to rent. We have to make sure the residents can afford to pay the rent,” Jacqueline Jones, the housing authority’s executive director, said in an interview.

Applications are available on the Ocean City Housing Authority website at oceancityha.org or by calling the agency at (609) 399-1062.

Ocean City Housing Authority board members discuss the duplexes during their monthly meeting.

In addition to meeting the requirements for low- or moderate-income levels, residents will also have to comply with a litany of “house rules” six pages long.

“These folks will be stewards of their neighborhood. If not, we will take appropriate action,” Barr said of anyone who may violate the rules. “This will be positive for the community.”

A humorous moment occurred during the authority’s meeting when board member Brian Broadley asked whether tenants living in the duplexes will be allowed to have pets.

“Yes. But it doesn’t mean that the (duplexes) will come with a pet,” Jones replied amid laughter from the board members.

The Ocean City Housing Authority’s nonprofit affiliate, the Ocean City Community Development Corp., is overseeing the project. The total cost for the five duplexes is about $4.6 million.

A combination of city and state funding will finance the project. Financing includes a $2 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The DCA has also agreed to contribute an additional $450,000 for the project.

The duplexes “will fill the gaps within the existing affordable housing ecosystem, build on current assets and investments, and add value to neighborhoods by addressing housing needs in an equitable way,” according to a DCA press release.

The city, meanwhile, is kicking in about $2.2 million in an agreement with the Ocean City Housing Authority and the Ocean City Community Development Corp.

Jones said the duplexes will help Ocean City to meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing under a court settlement in 2018.

The duplex under construction at 224 Simpson Ave. is tucked behind a towering tree.