"HOPE VI represents the dawning of a new era of prosperity in the Port!" said Mayor Chris Bollwage.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the City of Elizabeth a $28.9 million HOPE VI grant in 1997 to transform and revitalize the Pioneer Homes and Migliore Manor public housing developments. Over the past four years, the HOPE VI Elizabethport Neighborhood Revitalization Program has been recognized as one of the most ambitious and innovative revitalization programs in the country.
The years of hard work have finally paid off and, where there were once antiquated and high-density apartments, there now stand nearly 600 brand-new, beautiful townhouses. At least 320 of these homes are available to families on a lease-to-own basis and 60 units are reserved for senior rental housing. The new construction includes single, duplex, detached and row-style homes, all of which have been designed to complement the historic characteristics of the surrounding community.
HOPE VI has been instrumental in returning Elizabethport to its former economic strength. The grant from HUD, one of the largest ever won by the City, allowed the City and the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth to begin the revitalization process in Elizabethport.
New housing was only the first step in revitalizing the Port, one of Elizabeth's oldest neighborhoods. By bringing new hope and ending the cycle of poverty and dependency, the City will improve the quality of life for Elizabethport's residents. Elizabethport residents were instrumental in identifying the neighborhood's social service needs.
As a result of community input, funding from HOPE VI and other sources was used to provide new health services, soccer fields at the Waterfront Park, homeownership workshops, counseling and day care services, a new library, new jobs through redevelopment projects like the Jersey Gardens Mall, and job training through a public/private partnership with Kean University. A "one-stop" community center has been developed, which will house the HOPE VI Elizabethport Neighborhood Revitalization Program. The HOPE VI Elizabethport Neighborhood Revitalization Program is designed as a hub-and-spoke system.
The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE) and the local residents have identified three development goals:
1. To mend and strengthen the existing fabric of the neighborhood,
2. Provide opportunities for local builders, professionals, and manufacturers to play a crucial role in the development, and
3. Initiate broader investment in the neighborhood from the business community wishing to pursue new commercial and retail ventures and developers interested in building quality housing.
HOPE VI residents will benefit from the City's Light Rail Link, projected to be completed in 2005. The Light Rail will make stops at the Jersey Gardens Mall, the new Marriott hotels currently under construction, the Elizabeth Center at 13A, and the site of a proposed ferry between Elizabeth and Manhattan. Continuing beyond Elizabeth's borders, the Light Rail will connect to downtown Newark and Newark International Airport and will eventually include stops in other cities throughout Union County. This project will not only allow HOPE VI residents to access jobs and services, but will bring outside visitors into Elizabethport to shop and conduct business.
THE ELIZABETHPORT COMMUNITY CENTER
The Elizabethport Community Center, located at 250 Second Street, is the focal point of the community and social activities for Elizabethport residents. Conveniently located within walking distance of the newly redeveloped Marina and Waterfront Park, the Midtown train station, Elizabethport's shopping district, Jackson Park, the Fulton Street playground, and Brophy Field, the Community Center is a one-stop location for many crucial local services. The Community Center includes a 200-person capacity multi-purpose room, an office, storage space, gardens and an outdoor meeting area. Exterior site improvements include picnic and play areas, landscaping and on-site parking.
THE BUILDERS' PROJECT
To involve local businesses in the Elizabethport HOPE VI project, HACE has identified ten small parcels throughout the neighborhood that are available for construction. Local builders who compete in a bidding process will construct two and three bedroom duplexes, available to those eligible for public housing, on the lots. After construction, the Housing Authority will purchase the units from the builders. This program gives local builders an opportunity to participate in HOPE VI and become familiar with neighborhood design prototypes, as well as working as part of a federal program.