‘A legacy of love, unity and change’

Princeton's new affordable housing unit named after former Princeton Township mayor Jim Floyd and his wife Fannie.

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The impact of Jim and Fannie Floyd is still being felt in Princeton today.

The Princeton Community Housing (PCH), which was founded in 1967 and provides affordable housing for the community, named their new apartment building the “Jim and Fannie Floyd House.”

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PCH’s new apartment building has 25 affordable apartments.

On a warm sunny day Oct. 28, a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the Jim and Fannie Floyd House was held as members of the Floyd family, PCH, civic leaders, local and federally elected officials gathered together to celebrate the apartment building located off of Bunn Drive at Princeton Community Village’s Sassafras Row.

Sam Floyd (center), brother to Jim Floyd, cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the Jim and Fannie Floyd House on Oct. 28. Photo by Andrew Harrison

Jim Floyd, the first African American mayor of Princeton Township and a founder of PCH, passed away in 2018 and Fannie Floyd, who was heavily involved in civic and religious organizations and activism, passed away in 2008.

They were called “two committed individuals, activists and challengers of the status quo” by Alice Small, president of PCH Development Corporation and Board of Trustee.

“Jim, a tireless affordable housing advocate, was an active member of our board for 50 years, effectively guiding us to true north by holding our feet to the fire in all our endeavors,” Small said.

“Fannie was a fierce advocate for eliminating racism. The year after she died the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) Princeton instituted the Fannie E Floyd Racial Justice award in her honor.”

Small shared that with naming the building the “Jim and Fannie Floyd House” they hope it will inspire a new generation of activists and game changers.

The 25 apartments are 14 two-bedroom apartments, six three-bedroom apartments and five one-bedroom apartments.

They are also a mixture of affordable housing units that consist of very low-, low- and moderate-income apartments.

Moderate income is between 50% and 80% of the median area income. Low income is 50% or less of median income. Very low income is 30% or less of median income, according to PCH, adding that the 2023 median area income is about $91,000 for a one-person household.

Construction for the new apartment building began two years ago and PCH was able to get more than $2 million in funds for the project from donors, volunteers and friends.

Melanie Walker, executive director of New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), said with getting the bond financing in place for the project “locking in the rate had been the big challenge.”

“Investing the kind of resources here that we have at NJHMFA it was about $9 million in bond financing to support this project,” she said. “Pairing that with the Trust Fund resources which is where your community is saying this is what we care about, this is what we are investing in that sets the course not only for Princeton but the rest of New Jersey.”

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) called the Jim and Fannie Floyd House an incredibly beautiful gesture to Jim and Fannie Floyd.

“Jim may have been your hero, but I had known Jim since I was in my teens because he and my daddy collaborated. Then as I moved up through the systems of public service Jim Floyd would call and give me inspiration, direction, admonition, and I would take it with the gesture of love,” Coleman said.

“When I think of Fannie I think of her smile, and I think of that quietness that if you weren’t paying real attention to her, you did not realize the strength beneath that calm surface. She was something to be reckoned with too.”

Coleman noted how Jim and Fannie Floyd made people proud.

“Because they always believed in standing up for those whose voices were not heard, whose needs were not met, and they always helped us to envision what it could be if we put forward our best on behalf of others.”

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (center) delivers her personal remarks on Jim and Fannie Floyd. Photo by Andrew Harrison

Councilman Leighton Newlin stressed that the grand opening of the Jim and Fannie Floyd House is a testament to the commitment to affordable housing and the enduring legacy of Jim and Fannie Floyd.

“Jim Floyd was a visionary who played a pivotal role in the struggle to make the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood Princeton’s 20th Historic district. His leadership and dedication were instrumental in preserving the heritage and history of Princeton’s African American Community,” Newlin added.

“I would be remised if I did not acknowledge the wind beneath Jim Floyd’s wings – Fannie Floyd. Her unwavering support, her tireless dedication to the community and her strength and guidance as a community force in her own right should not go unnoticed.”

Michael Floyd (center) speaks about his parents, their impact, and PCH’s impact at a dedication ceremony for the Jim and Fannie Floyd House on Oct. 28. Photo by Andrew Harrison

Michael Floyd, Jim and Fannie Floyd’s son, said his parents were dedicated to PCH. He added, “They spent a lot of time, energy and money on the organization. To name this after them is a joy.”

He urged everyone to continue to support PCH to do more housing. He added, “I hope they find more land and the municipality works with them, possibly I’ll say it at Maple/Franklin.”

Floyd expressed that “he feels great” about his parents being recognized with the Jim and Fannie Floyd House and that his mother Fannie was chosen.

“I’m used to admiring them and have been hearing versions of my parents. They were giving and very civic minded people, who believed in equality and eliminating inequality.”

Another son, Jim Floyd, added that his parents contributed so much to the community and made it their life’s work to improve the old Princeton to become the newish Princeton.

“Their contributions are made towards the future, and it is very gratifying to see the community appreciating that,” he said.

“It is very important for everyone to have recognized my mother with the emphasis that they had. He was the one that was more visible, but he would not have been who he was if she was not who she was.”

Floyd family, PCH, and elected officials stand together in front of the Jim and Fannie Floyd House.
Photo by Andrew Harrison

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