New Brunswick Tomorrow Marks Its First Housing Project as Lead Developer

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Esther Gutierrez fought back tears as she talked about how her lifelong dream came true last year when she and her family bought their first house in New Brunswick.

She recognized that for many city residents, the goal of owning a home where flowers can sprout in a garden, kids can play in a yard and lifelong memories can be made within its walls remains out of reach.

That’s why Wednesday’s ceremony on a tree-lined section of Drift Street was so important.

New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), working with its new sister organization, Hub City Housing, marked the beginning of its inaugural affordable housing project for first-time, low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

This bright blue home at 50 Drift St. will be refurbished and transformed into a single-family home.

Simultaneously, work will begin at 270 Power St. to rehabilitate a two-family home that will provide homeownership and affordable rental opportunities.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important and impactful this work is, particularly for families in addressing a pressing need for affordable quality housing in the city of New Brunswick and throughout New Jersey,” said NBT president and CEO Jaymie Santiago. “At NBT, we’ll continue to complement this work by preparing first-time homebuyers, getting them ready, and bridging their ability to access capital whenever it’s needed.”

NBT hopes construction will be wrapped up and that it will be closing the sales to home buyers in late winter.

Diana Diaz Tapia, housing manager for NBT, said a key ally in the organization’s first housing projects as lead developer has been the Department of Community Affairs, whose Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program provided funding to make the project a reality.

The contributions to the program by Magyar Bank, OceanFirst Bank, PNC Bank, Valley Bank, Provident Bank, and others prove it takes a village to create affordable housing in the city.

Although no one was sure about what to call Wednesday’s event – it wasn’t a groundbreaking ceremony, so there was no need for shovels – there was no doubt that it represented the essence of NBT. Diaz Tapia and her colleagues at the nonprofit organization live up to their motto – Moving People Forward – in the 50-block Esperanza section of the city in myriad ways.

Jovanny Belisario focuses much of her efforts on financial education and business opportunities. Manuel Castañeda is the driving force behind health initiatives. Charles Bergman has fostered strong ties through his role as director of neighborhood strategies.

With board members such as Gutierrez leading the way, Hub City Housing will serve as a community housing development organization focused on more neighborhood-specific projects in the future, removing the eyesores of the blighted and abandoned properties in the community and transforming them into homes.

“These homes symbolize hope, opportunity, and the promise of a brighter future for low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers here in the city of New Brunswick,” said Mayor Jim Cahill on Wednesday. “But these efforts are not just about building homes. They’re about building a community where families can thrive and grow. By providing more quality affordable housing options, we’re enabling more families to put down roots and become proud homeowners in the city of New Brunswick.”

Story & Photo By: Chuck O'Donnell