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News About Hamilton Businesses and Economic Development

Posted on: August 1, 2023

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Celebrates the Grand Opening of Freedom Village at Hamilton Woods

Mayor Martin speaking to crowd at the grand opening of Freedom Village at Hamilton WoodsThe New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) has announced the official opening of Freedom Village at Hamilton Woods. This much-anticipated, transformative housing development represents a significant milestone in providing permanent accessible homes and supportive services that empower residents with disabilities to live independently within the vibrant community of Hamilton.

Hamilton Woods offers barrier-free living in every apartment, ensuring easy navigation for residents with wheelchairs. With rents as low as $882 per month, this development addresses the housing needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, making it truly a place they can call home. Furthermore, the residents will have access to on-site social services coordinators provided by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, further enhancing the support network available to them.

Donna Spencer, NJHMFA’s Director of Multifamily and Supported Housing and Lending at NJHMFA, expressed her gratitude and excitement during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She praised the efforts of all those involved in bringing this remarkable project to life, especially acknowledging the support and collaboration of Mayor Jeff Martin, the Township of Hamilton, and Project Freedom, a key partner in this endeavor.

"At NJHMFA, we are firmly committed to providing supportive housing to ensure that everyone has a safe, quality, and affordable home regardless of disability status," Donna Spencer stated. “Hamilton residents know from experience that Project Freedom builds and maintains accessible, affordable apartments to the highest standard, enabling tenants to reach their full potential. It is our expectation that Project Freedom’s second Hamilton project will prove just as successful as their first.”

The collaboration between NJHMFA and Project Freedom has been instrumental in making this project a reality. Funding of nearly $14 million generated through 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and an additional $1.2 million awarded through NJHMFA's Special Needs Housing Trust Fund have been crucial to the success of Hamilton Woods.

Hamilton Woods is a housing development that prioritizes inclusivity and accessibility for individuals with disabilities. It offers 72 units with one, two, and three-bedroom apartments, catering to people from diverse backgrounds and abilities. Notably, a quarter of these units are thoughtfully designated for individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses, promoting equal housing opportunities. With over eight percent of Hamilton's population representing people with disabilities, this project addresses their housing needs and is a welcome addition to the township.

Strategically located near the township's "Center City" district, Hamilton Woods provides easy access to various neighborhood amenities, including a Capital Health clinic, the Hamilton Area YMCA, and the Hamilton Library, all just across the street. Residents will also enjoy convenient transportation options with a nearby bus stop and a range of shopping and dining opportunities within walking distance.

“Hamilton is proud to host a second Project Freedom development,” commented Mayor Jeff Martin. “Project Freedom’s commitment to affordable, barrier-free housing is second-to-none and we look forward to our continued partnership with everyone who made this project possible.”

Project Freedom's track record in building and maintaining supportive housing has made them an invaluable partner in this initiative. Over the years, Project Freedom has created over 750 affordable homes in five counties, empowering tenants with disabilities and their families to live independently and thrive. Their previous developments have had a positive impact on both the tenants and the surrounding community by uplifting property values and fostering diversity within the neighborhood.

Tracee Battis, Executive Director of Project Freedom said, “We are so thrilled to be celebrating the grand opening of our beautiful Hamilton Woods project, our 12th since the inception of Project Freedom nearly 40 years ago and our 2nd in Hamilton Township. We cannot thank Mayor Jeff Martin, Hamilton Township, NJHMFA, Mercer County, TD Bank and National Equity Fund enough for their continued support for our mission.” 

At the event, Norman Smith, Associate Executive Director and Founder, expressed that this is like a second homecoming for him, having grown up in Hamilton Township. He went on to explain what Project Freedom means to him. “Project Freedom’s housing provides a base from which people with and without disabilities can blaze their own paths. This is what I am most proud of. While others see apartments as just bricks and mortar, I see them as catalysts for lives being changed through the opportunity of freedom.”

The Freedom Village concept has proven to be a success in previous partnerships, with developments in Hopewell, Woodstown, Toms River, and more. These homes have brought hope and relief to residents, particularly those with disabilities, who often bear the brunt of the affordable housing crisis. The overwhelming response to Hamilton Woods, with nearly 600 applications received, highlights the pressing need for such supportive accommodations.

"On behalf of NJHMFA, I would like to thank everyone who played a part in bringing this project to fruition," NJHFMA Executive Director Melanie R. Walter said. "Hamilton Woods offers modern, inclusive, accessible housing that will enhance resident access to and participation in the Hamilton Township community.” 

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the beginning of a new chapter for the residents of Hamilton Woods, reflecting the positive outcomes that can be achieved through dedication, partnership, and a shared vision for inclusive and supportive communities.

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