By Ron Leir
The town’s first affordable residence for senior citizens at 774 Harrison Ave. is getting ever closer to reality.
As construction of the 15-unit building nears completion, the sponsor, Domus Corp., the housing arm of Catholic Charities of Newark, has begun the process of soliciting applications from prospective tenants.
John Westervelt, CEO of Catholic Charities and Domus president, said that a lottery system will be used to make the final selections from the applicant pool which, judging from interest shown, could reach “over 100.”
To be eligible for consideration, an applicant must be age 62 or older and must meet U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) income limits.
Because federal funds are a key to financing the project, the apartments cannot be limited solely to Harrison residents.
Application forms are available at Harrison Town Hall, in the third floor office of the mayor, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and at Domus’s Kearny Senior Residence, 681 Schuyler Ave., or by calling 201-991- 0054.
Applications must be mailed/postmarked or hand-delivered to Kearny Senior Residence, 681 Schuyler Ave., Kearny, N.J. 07032 no later than Monday, Nov. 17. Applications will not be accepted by fax. Applications received after the deadline will be placed on a waiting list, to be considered after all lottery-eligible applications.
FEMA registrants who were displaced by Super Storm Sandy will be given priority during the first three months of leasing.
The lottery will be held on Nov. 21 in Harrison Town Hall.
“Once all the applications are in, we’ll probably use the council chambers in Harrison Town Hall [on the third floor] to do the lottery,” Westervelt said. “We’ll put all them all in a big box, then open up the forms and each application will get a number and we’ll start processing them, from 1 to 15.”
“Once we have developed a list of qualified applicants, I’m expecting we can start moving people in by the beginning of December,” Westervelt said.
As of last week, the three-story structure, consisting of modular dwelling units, looked to be in the final stages.
Westervelt said that the contractor, Del-Sano Contracting of Union, has been waiting for PSE&G to run wires from a utility pole into the street through manholes behind the building to hook up to electrical meters.
Then there is the vinyl siding for the building’s exterior to be completed, along with some interior painting and installation of carpeting, he said.
“I’m guessing that by mid- November, we should be opening up,” Westervelt said, once the town Construction Department issues a certificate of occupancy.
Asked if the job has triggered any overruns, Westervelt said: “No, we’re right on budget.”
The project was expected to run about $3.7 million, with financing coming from $1.8 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds funneled through New Jersey’s Sandy Disaster Recov ery program, $1.4 million from the Hudson County HOME program and $509,000 from the Harrison Affordable Trust Fund.
Although the project is partly designed to provide apartments for those victimized by Sandy, Westervelt said that among those who’ve called his office inquiring about the units, so far none have mentioned being ousted from their homes or apartments by the storm as the reason for their interest.
“Most of the calls have been from people in the immediate area – Harrison, Kearny and North Arlington,” Westervelt said.
When Domus opened its Kearny Senior Residence, “85 to 90% of those tenants came from the Kearny area,” he said.
At the Harrison location, Westervelt said, all 15 onebedroom apartments are earmarked for tenants. A “residential manager” will be available during the day to “speak to tenants about any issues that may come up” and to collect rents and tenants will be provided with a 24-hour emergency phone contact to reach someone in management, particularly during the evening hours, he said.
Twelve of the apartments will rent for about $705 a month while the other three will lease for about $560 a month, as per household income, according to Westervelt.
“We’re excited to be opening another affordable senior facility and look forward to our tenants enjoying their new surroundings,” he said.