$1.2 million project to create new, attainable market-rate housing in rural community
ABC News Coverage of the event
From New Jersey Business Magazine, September 15, 2022
The Financial Wellness Institute today broke ground on its $1.2 million Finlaw Apartments housing development in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, which will expand attainable market-rate housing opportunities for rural residents in southwestern New Jersey.
“This is a great day for working families who will be looking for safe, quality, and healthy homes,” said Rita Wood, chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Financial Wellness Institute (FWI) of Deptford, which is spearheading the construction project.
Working closely with municipal officials, FWI received a zoning variance approval to convert 40 and 42 Finlaw Avenue, in Fairfield into two duplex buildings, for a total of four rental units – each with two bedrooms at 1,070 square feet. The property – valued at $50,000 – was donated by Wells Fargo as part of its long history of supporting rural communities.
This housing initiative, Wood said, is a key element of FWI’s “REsolution™ – Healthy Housing Program” – a community-based effort that seeks to connect people with opportunities to purchase or rent safe, healthy, attainable market rate homes that are built in accordance with Bluefield Homes Healthy Living Standards which meet HUD and CDC guidelines.
According to FWI President and CEO Wanda Hardy, the groundwork for this project was laid with one question in 2017 when she was talking with a colleague. “We just wondered how there could be a need for housing in South Jersey which is affordable for working families when there are so many real estate owned, abandoned, vacant properties littered throughout the region,” she stated. “From there, we began advocating to have these properties turned over to nonprofits so that they could rehabilitate them and help fill the housing gap.”
This effort led to PNC and Wells Fargo collaborating to donate a property in Haddonfield, NJ, to FWI, which ultimately rehabilitated the property and sold it to a first-time homebuyer.
“Far too many people are burdened by the cost of housing and face housing instability, including here in South Jersey,” said Paralee Knight, Wells Fargo vice president of community relations. “At Wells Fargo, we believe everyone deserves an opportunity to have a quality and affordable place to call home. That’s why we’re thrilled to work with the Financial Wellness Institute to create more housing options for New Jersey residents.” Wells Fargo remains a committed supporter of the “REsolution™ – Healthy Housing Program.” In addition to donating the land where the two attainable market-rate properties will stand, Wells Fargo also provided funding to assist with the project’s predevelopment work through its broader Welcome Home initiative. This enterprise-wide program supports solutions that increase the supply of homes that are affordable, support families in realizing the dream of homeownership and expand opportunities for building wealth.
Also covered by ROI-NJ