Interfaith Neighbors has been awarded a new planning grant from the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation continuing a decade of support for economic stability, affordable housing, and youth opportunity on Asbury Park’s West Side.
Past WFRF grants have supported such Interfaith Neighbors (IFN) projects as the Springwood Center, affordable homes and rental housing, Kula Café, Kula Urban Farm and a variety of programs carried out by Interfaith’s collaborative partners, including the Community Affairs & Resource Center, Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.
The Wells Fargo planning grant runs concurrent to the CHOICE Neighborhood Planning Grant awarded by HUD to the City of Asbury Park and the Asbury Park Housing Authority.
Interfaith Neighbors is a participating partner in CHOICE and has a lead role in the areas of health, youth, employment and economy and education.
The next public meeting announced for the CHOICE planning process is at 5:30 p.m. Wed., July 19, at the Asbury Park Senior Center, 1201 Springwood Ave.
“We at IFN are very excited and thankful to have the continued support of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, especially at a time when other planning activities such as CHOICE are underway,” said Heather Schulze, community engagement director. “The Wells Fargo funds will allow additional resident and community engagement which, when combined with the results of the CHOICE initiative, will lead to a more comprehensive plan to address community issues in a meaningful way.”
Schulze said the multiple agencies, funders, and programs can be confusing to the public but emphasized that the message to community residents is to actively participate in the process now underway.
“The two most important things to know are that all of us are working together and sharing information to create a comprehensive plan, and all of us want resident input, involvement and leadership,” she said.
The current planning grants can lead to projects and activities that can be implemented with future funding.
Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) of Philadelphia is the planning firm assisting with the CHOICE planning initiative and has recently been engaged by Interfaith Neighbors to assist with the Wells Fargo-funded initiative.
“The West Side neighborhood of Asbury Park has what it takes to create a truly actionable plan – access to transit, a new neighborhood park, prime redevelopment parcels and public housing sites that are ready to be revitalized,’’ said Woo Kim, senior associate with WRT.
The focus of CHOICE Neighborhoods is the redevelopment of Lincoln Village into a mixed-income community and subsequent housing investments into the surrounding areas. But there also are elements to benefit all city residents, participants say.
Tyrone Garrett, executive director of both the Asbury Park and Long Branch housing authorities, said the plan is to “do something even more transformational than what we did in Long Branch.
During July and August, Interfaith Neighbors is gathering input from residents by offering a weekly question about community conditions during the free Monday night concerts at Springwood Park. Those who participate have an opportunity to win a gift card to Kula Café. Later this summer and fall, Interfaith will seek input from residents through a youth coloring and drawing contest, an open mic night and a series of community focus groups.
For more information, contact Heather Schulze at HeatherS@interfaithneighbors.org