NJRA and NJHMFA Celebrate the Opening of the Dr. Lena Frances Edwards Apartment Complex
The 64-Unit Development Named After a Pioneer African American Surgeon will Provide Affordable Housing for Families and Homeless Veterans
Jersey City, NJ – Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, today joined local officials and community leaders to mark the grand opening of an affordable housing development named after a pioneer African American surgeon. The Dr. Lena Frances Edwards apartment complex will provide 64 affordable rental units, with five set aside for homeless veterans.
“Dr. Lena Frances Edwards was a trailblazer who worked her entire career against many odds to help the disadvantaged by advocating for improved health care and social services for underserved populations,” said Lieutenant Governor Oliver who also serves as chairwoman of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) and New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA) boards. “These apartments continue to serve her mission by providing affordable housing along with an array of supportive services for the most in need in our society – our low-income working families and homeless veterans.”
The apartments, with 2,300 feet of retail space on the ground floor, also include amenities like a community room, on-site laundry, green roof, administrative offices, bike storage and on-site covered parking for residents. They will be rented to individuals or families with a household income lower than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Five of the units are set aside for households with income lower than 20 percent AMI with priority given to homeless veterans.
The Dr. Lena Frances Edwards apartment complex completes the redevelopment of a former brownfield site, which was initiated with $500,000 in financing from NJRA to cover the predevelopment costs for the $17.9 million project. With close access to public transportation, medical facilities, schools, churches, shopping centers and places of employment, this new development will play a key role in helping to anchor and enhance Jersey City’s walkable downtown neighborhoods.
“The Dr. Lena Francis Edwards Apartment Complex is a fitting tribute to the legacy of one of the first African American board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists within the United States. Dr. Edwards would not only treat poor patients in Jersey City, but she would find housing for homeless patients,” said Leslie A. Anderson, President and CEO of NJRA.
NJHMFA awarded the very competitive 9% federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which generated approximately $17.3 million in private equity.
“We are proud to be here today to officially open the Dr. Lena Frances Edwards Apartments. This community provides not only housing that is affordable to families, but supportive housing for some of our most vulnerable residents – those who are homeless,” said NJHMFA Executive Director Charles A. Richman. “At the same time, as a mixed-use development, the project’s retail component will also continue to help revitalize the area.”
The development will also provide a supportive services coordinator who will work with the homeless individuals and their existing case managers, as available, to develop a success plan for the residents. A full array of supportive services will be offered to all residents, including financial and budget planning, health and nutritional education and preventative medical screenings. Services will be provided in partnership with multiple agencies including Women Rising, a local Jersey City nonprofit.
The project was built by Genesis Companies, a New York-based minority-owned urban developer, who built the first 100 percent affordable green building in the city. CDC Properties, Inc. is an experienced non-profit developer with a mission of developing affordable homes for low- to moderate-income residents. “The Dr. Lena Frances Edwards Apartments is a beautifully designed, all affordable building delivered for the residents of Jersey City and the Greenville neighborhood,” said Genesis Companies Founder and Managing Member Karim Hutson. “This residence is a testament to the wonderful things that the private and public sectors can achieve together, and we’d specifically like to thank everyone at the Department of Community Affairs, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority for their tireless support in bringing this building to life.”
Dr. Lena Frances Edwards was a prominent African-American physician who served Jersey City’s working class and immigrant residents in the early 20th century. While practicing medicine, Dr. Edwards would speak about public health and related social issues at local churches and the YWCA. Dr. Edwards helped set up a 15-bed maternity hospital with donated materials and funds and, using her board certification to get her patients admitted to the local hospital when necessary, reduced infant mortality dramatically. Her efforts earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, the U. S. government's highest peacetime honor, capping a lifetime of service and struggle for those in need.
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