‘Make no mistake, the need is great’

HomeFront officials cut ribbon for affordable homes at Hopewell Parc

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With a snip of the scissors, Homes by TLC, HomeFront and developer Lennar celebrated the completion of a 26-unit apartment building at the Hopewell Parc development May 17.

The partnership between the three groups means 26 families, chosen from among 386 applicants for the affordable housing units, will have a place to call home, officials said.

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The nonprofit Homes by TLC partnered with developer Lennar to buy the 26-unit apartment building. The Hopewell Parc development, off Scotch Road in Hopewell Township, consists of 1,077 homes, including 216 affordable housing units.

Homes by TLC also collaborates with HomeFront, the Lawrence Township-based nonprofit group whose mission is to end homelessness and break the cycle of poverty. Residents of the 26 units may receive supportive services from HomeFront.

The apartments at 2000 Aaron Truehart Way are earmarked for very low- and low-income households. There are four one-bedroom apartments, 16 two-bedroom apartments and six three-bedroom apartments. None of the residents will pay more than 30% of their income for housing, officials said.

HomeFront Executive Director Sarah Steward said she was excited to cut the blue ribbon at the apartment building and for its future occupants. She said she is passionate about putting families into a home – not just housing.

“Many of you know that we are in the business at Homes by TLC and HomeFront of hope and of convincing people that things are possible,” Steward said. “Days like today get me so excited because I don’t have to try and convince somebody it’s possible. You can see it.”

Courtesy of HomeFront

From l-r Sarah Steward, HomeFront CEO; Kim Shivers, Tenacre Foundation; Jane Hallett; Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning; Sangita Karra, Wells Fargo; Celia Bernstein, Homes by TLC Executive Director; David Chait, Hopewell Township Committee; Wanda Saez, Wells Fargo; Matthew and Suki Wasserman; Martha Lamar, Homes by TLC; State Sen. Shirley Turner; and HomeFront Founder Connie Mercer.

Celia Bernstein, the executive director of Homes by TLC, said the ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the 23rd affordable housing development in its 25-year history.

There is a need for affordable workforce housing, Bernstein said. The 30 top occupations in New Jersey pay median wages less than the housing wage of $33.50 per hour needed to afford a modest, two-bedroom home in Mercer County. The state’s average hourly wage is $24.40. The minimum wage is $15.14 per hour.

Workforce housing includes those who work as teacher assistants, nursing assistants, accounting clerks, home health aides, truck drivers, security guards, laborers, food preparation workers, receptionists and cashiers, Bernstein noted.

“Make no mistake. The need is great,” she said.

Bernstein thanked all of those who made the project possible – from developer Lennar to the construction company, the attorney, the civil engineer, donors and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning said she was thrilled to welcome the Hopewell Valley’s newest residents. The first residents are expected to move into their new homes in June.

Peters-Manning said that when the topic of street names in the Hopewell Parc development was raised, she suggested naming them for prominent Blacks who lived in the Hopewell Valley.

One of those prominent Blacks was Aaron Truehart, Peters-Manning said. He was born in 1835 on the Sourland Mountain and was one of more than 180,000 Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Truehart served in the 127th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops. He was present at Appomattox Courthouse when Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Truehart was discharged in 1865 in Brazos Santiago, Texas. He was present in Texas for Juneteenth, when the final enslaved Blacks were freed, Peters-Manning noted.

Truehart returned to the Hopewell Valley and spent the rest of his life as a farmer on the Sourland Mountain, she said. He died in 1910 and is buried in the Stoutsburg Cemetery in Hopewell.

Peters-Manning said Truehart’s grandfather, Friday Truehart, arrive in the Hopewell Valley as a 13-year-old enslaved boy. He is honored by a Witness Stone at the Old School Baptist Church in Hopewell Borough.

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