For the past 30 years, MEND has been a proud member of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ), a statewide association that supports the creation of housing and economic opportunities for low-to-moderate-income communities. To mark their 30th anniversary, the HCDNNJ released its 2019 economic impact study, “Thriving Together,” to show how non-profit community development corporations (CDCs) contributed to the success of New Jersey’s economy from 2014 to 2019. The numbers are staggering.
In the five-year span, non-profit CDCs completed or began a total of 570 projects, spanning all of New Jersey’s 21 counties. These projects contributed nearly $2 billion in economic impact throughout the state, supported 11,500 jobs and infused more than $500 million into the community though New Jersey’s workers and businesses. In South Jersey alone, there was an impressive $550 million impact and 1,300 homes were built.
During that timeframe, MEND significantly impacted the South Jersey area by blazing a path for affordable living in Burlington County. In 2015, MEND celebrated the opening of the Duffy School Apartments in Florence Township – a 53-unit, $14.2 million affordable rental housing community for seniors – and a 100-unit complex in Egg Harbor City as part of the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort. In 2016, MEND received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing for the Duffy School Apartments. Then, in 2019, MEND opened its $12.9 million, 54-unit affordable housing project for seniors and adults with special needs at the former site of the Cinnaminson Home on Riverton Road in Cinnaminson.
Today, MEND boasts 771 apartment units with locations in nine South Jersey towns. The units provide a safe, stable, affordable place to call home for individuals, families, seniors, people with disabilities and more.
“Our living spaces mean a great deal to those we serve,” said Matthew Reilly, president and CEO of MEND. “There is a great relief and appreciation among residents for the opportunity to live not only where they are safe and comfortable, but where the stress of ‘keeping up’ is lessened.”
Even with this meaningful level of state investment, there is still a great amount of work to be done. The HCDNNJ’s report found that there was less CDC development in South Jersey during the past five years in proportion to their need, compared to the Network’s first 25 years. In addition, the cost of a decent home in New Jersey is high, while wages have been relatively flat. As of 2019, New Jersey is the fifth most expensive state for renters.
For HCDNNJ members like MEND, affordable housing solutions are more dire than ever.
“Investment in affordable housing remains a priority in the state of New Jersey,” said Reilly. “MEND is continuing to find new avenues to support our communities and create economic opportunities for those who are struggling to meet their needs. I look forward to the next 5 years of growth.”