A $350,000 New Jersey Urban Site Acquisition (NJUSA) loan for Sierra House, a mixed-use project in East Orange that will serve homeless women and their children, was approved by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority’s (NJRA) Board of Directors at its May 23 meeting. NJRA’s NJUSA program is a revolving loan fund that provides short-term financing to acquire and develop property. The approved project, in partnership with the city of East Orange, residents, and other stakeholders, will assist with the city's revitalization efforts.
“The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is committed to making housing more broadly available, especially for specials needs populations, so that anyone in New Jersey can contribute to and benefit from a thriving economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, Commissioner of DCA, who also serves as chair of the NJRA board. “I am excited to see NJRA’s commitment and investment in the Sierra House and East Orange’s revitalization efforts, which will improve the quality of life for so many.”
Sierra House is located on North 14th Street in East Orange. Women residing at the home participate in the Sierra House Transitional Program, a two-year program that provides housing, case management, and critical social services to participants in the program. “Rather than just offering shelter, Sierra House aims to provide a home, so measures are taken to ensure a comfortable living environment. The home was carefully designed to blend into the neighborhood and community, without any signs indicating that it is a shelter,” said Executive Director of Sierra House, Keely Freeman.
The project allows Sierra House to purchase the structure currently leased. Financing will also allow for renovations to existing commercial office space, the reception area, a commercial kitchen, four offices, a conference room, a multi-purpose room used for classes, a TV room, and storage space in the basement. There are 45 beds on the second and third levels that currently house homeless young women and mothers, ages 18 to 25, and their children.
Leslie Anderson, President and CEO of the NJRA, said, “The financing provided to Sierra House fits the mission and mandate of the New Jersey Redevelopment to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s most urbanized communities. Sierra House creates sustainable solutions to support our communities with the resources necessary to help women and children receive much needed services. The NJRA welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with Sierra House to change lives.”
Founded in 2002, Sierra House is a nonprofit Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) committed to improving the prospects of individual achievement for youth, low- to moderate-income working families, and homeless young adults through housing, education, and community services, thereby contributing to the long-term stability of the community. Sierra House provides programs that enrich life experiences, encourage and challenge youth to excel and become self-sufficient, and supports neighborhoods.More: Home Page News