New Homes Available for Sandy-impacted Families in Berkeley Township
Families impacted by Super storm Sandy nearly three years ago are being given an opportunity to rent newly built homes on land donated by Berkeley Township through the non-profit agency O.C.E.A.N. Inc. based in Toms River.
Ted Gooding, O.C.E.A.N. Inc. President, said half of the 12 homes have been built using grants from various resources, including $500,000 in housing trust funds from Berkeley and money from the state, Ocean First Bank, Wells Fargo, and New Jersey Natural Gas. The non-profit was able to secure a mortgage through Ocean First Bank for the differences, according to Gooding.
"We recognized that the need for housing for rentals was imperative to moving some of these folks back to self-sufficiency," said Gooding.
Gooding said he's excited about the number of community partners that helped the agency fund the project, as well as volunteers from around the nation that were provided through Maryland-based Brethren Ministries who constructed the single-family dwellings from the foundation up, at no cost to O.C.E.A.N. Inc.
"We saved about $35,000 per house. When you look at $35,000 per home times six, we saved $210,000 in this project alone, which we didn't have to finance," Gooding said.
The lot sizes are about 100 x 125 square feet in a wooded area of Berkeley. Each home is about 1,300 square feet, with a full front porch, 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and all of the other required amenities, according to Gooding. Each home also has enough street parking for two vehicles.
"They're very nice. They're something that we're very, very proud of. They blend within the community they're in, and we've had nothing but a good response from the community as well as the people that have gone through as potential renters," said Gooding.
Applications are still being accepted. 3 of the homes have been rented and 3 are under construction.
"These are the first 6 and the second 6 we home to start within a month," Gooding said.
Potential renters must meet certain income criteria and produce certificates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be considered.
"Some rents will as low as $800 a month and some will be as high as $1,100 or $1,200 a month, depending on their income," said Gooding.
O.C.E.A.N. Inc will carry the mortgage on the homes and pay the taxes, while tenants will be responsible for paying utilities and any infrastructure costs.
A Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, at Noon, at 284 Elizabeth Avenue, Berkeley Township.
In addition to this project, O.C.E.A.N. Inc. has been an advocate of "Tiny Homes," or "Micro" units for individuals. Gooding said he hopes to focus on that issue next year by reaching out to communities that have a need for affordable housing. He also pointed out that there is a tremendous amount of money in housing trust funds throughout New Jersey for such projects.
"We believe this is an optimal way to do it, whether it be this unit or one of our micro houses. We believe both concepts work well," he said.
"We've put in a lot of time as an organization just to try and convince our partners that this is something that will benefit the community as well and for those families that need to have just a little bit more, just to give them some sense of self-sufficiency and pride of living in a brand new home," added Gooding.