Ocean Township will receive a $1.3 million state grant to help fund the acquisition of Whalepond Village- a 96-unit affordable-housing complex that was threatened with high rent increases.
Sen. Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande announced the grant, awarded by the Department of Community Affairs, in a Sept. 27 press release.
The grant will assist the township in passing the property to a new owner who will ensure the facility remains affordable housing available to senior citizens. The former owner had considered selling the property to a developer who would have allowed the affordable housing component to expire with rents to go up.
“Without this grant these homes would become market-rate housing, forcing many of the local seniors out of their homes,” Beck said. “I worked closely with the Administration, DCA and Ocean Township to ensure that our seniors living on fixed incomes will continue to have a safe, hospitable place to live. Had we not acted, 96 units designated as senior affordable-rental units would have been lost.”
The grant is awarded as part of the Department of Community Affairs Balanced Housing Program. This new agreement ensures the complex remains senior affordable housing for at least another 30 years
“As a resident of Ocean Township, I am pleased that Governor Christie is providing this $1.3 million grant to help preserve this facility as senior housing. This grant will help ensure that seniors in the area will have access to affordable senior citizen housing here in Ocean Township,” Angelini said.
“Seniors living on fixed incomes will continue to have an affordable option to stay in Whalepond Village and contribute to the vitality of the neighborhood,” Casagrande said.
When Whalepond Village, at 400 Stacey Drive, was first built there was a 20-year deed restriction on the units requiring them to be rented only to senior citizens age 55 or older. That deed restriction was expiring in the spring of 2014 and the owner, K. Hovnanian, told township officials that he had a potential buyer and that the buyer wanted to let those restrictions expire and transition the units away from affordable housing to market-rate rentals.
The township, however, had a right of first refusal which was negotiated as part of a settlement of an earlier builder’s remedy lawsuit. This provided an opportunity for the township to match any offers received for the property.
Ocean Township purchased Whalepond Village on Feb. 21 last year and immediately signed a one-year lease on the complex with Community Investment Strategies (CIS) that will eventually result in the Bordentown-based company purchasing and maintaining the units as affordable housing for another 30 years.
CIS is an affordable housing developer that specializes in owning and managing senior communities and will be managing the day-to- day operations at the complex.
The $1.3 million grant will go to offset a portion of the $7.125 million purchase price.
Whalepond Village is part of the Federal Tax Credit Program for affordable housing and a one-bedroom apartment rents for about $820 a month. Rents may have gone as high as $1,300 a month if the township had not stepped in.