By MICHELLE BRUNETTI POST
EGG HARBOR CITY — The first tenant to move into the new 100-unit affordable senior housing development here is a former city crossing guard and code enforcement officer, who is married to a retired city policeman.
She also graduated from the Fanny D. Rittenberg Middle School that was demolished in 2011 to make way for the senior complex in the 500 block of Philadelphia Avenue.
Milka “Grape” Adams, 62, signed her lease at Rittenberg Manor on Tuesday and started moving boxes into the new two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of the building. She will share it with husband Philip, 70, who is soon to be released from a rehabilitation center.
“I am so excited, I’m getting goose pimples,” she said, laughing as she walked into her apartment for the first time.
The kitchen is a small alcove open to the living room, and the two bedrooms are large, with lots of closet space. All the rooms, including the large bathroom, have wide doors to accommodate wheelchairs. There is also a small balcony.
Adams said she and her husband downsized from a three-bedroom house on a large lot on San Francisco Avenue that required a lot of maintenance.
Later in the day Community Manager Chrissy Bates led a group lease signing for several other new tenants, some of whom also attended the Rittenberg School decades ago.
Bates said tenants have been approved for 80 of the units, but she is still accepting applications for the other 20 apartments.
“And we’ll start a waiting list after the building is full,” Bates said.
The $20 million Rittenberg Manor was developed by Conifer Realty of Mount Laurel, Burlington County as affordable housing for senior citizens. Much of the cost of construction, done by its affiliate Conifer-LeChase Construction, is covered by the federal government in either tax credits or Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
Applicants must show they are over age 62 and have incomes below 60 percent of the median income for Atlantic County. In 2015, that’s $28,800 for a single person and $32,880 for a couple, according to the state Department of Community Affairs.
Rent is set by federal formula. The top rent that can be charged for a one-bedroom for someone at 60 percent of median income in Atlantic County is $771, and for a two-bedroom is $925.
The four-story complex takes up all of the eastern side of the 500 block of Philadelphia Avenue and has two community rooms, a computer room and exercise room, and laundry rooms onsite. The city provided the land for $1, as its investment in making the project happen.
Conifer Management will run it as an affordable housing complex for 30 years, and then own the building and be free to turn it into market housing.
Adam’s husband of 44 years has health problems. He requires dialysis three times a week, and is now in a rehabilitation center, she said. She is going to have the apartment all ready for him when he is released soon.
“It will be all done so when he comes home, he won’t have to do anything,” she said.
Adams said she couldn’t sleep Monday night, she was so excited about seeing her new apartment for the first time.
“My husband is going to love the sun,” she said while standing on her balcony overlooking a large community garden the developer is installing on the north lawn. It will have raised beds so people in wheelchairs can access them, said Conifer manager Marybeth Feinberg, there to assist with the lease signings.
“This is such a blessing,” Adams said, “You don’t know. It’s a blessing from God almighty.”
Her husband was a police officer in the city from 1972 to 1985, when health problems forced him to leave the job, she said. The couple has three adult children.
Adams’ nephew Lamont McKenney, of Egg Harbor City, was there to help her start to move in, and will move furniture in on Saturday, he said.
His sister’s mother-in-law also got an apartment there.
“I’m helping her too,” he said. “All they want to do is get in here. I just hope everybody doesn’t want to move in on the same day.”
Conifer is also building affordable family housing in Cape May Court House, Rio Grande, and Atlantic City. It built a 90-unit, $19 million affordable senior development in Lower Township in 2010.
City Council President Ed Dennis has said Rittenberg would generate Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) contributions to the city of $63,000 in its first year, saving taxpayers 3 cents per $100 valuation on the tax levy.
This year’s budget anticipates receiving $28,354 in Rittenberg PILOT payments, but that may increase to about $35,000, said City Chief Financial Officer Jodi Kahn. It is prorated for the number of months tenants are living there, she said.
Applications may be picked up at Rittenberg Manor, 528 Philadelphia Avenue, Egg Harbor City or call 609-798-0072 to request an application by mail.
2015 Tax Credit Affordable Housing Income Limits*
30% 1 person $14,400 $15,810 $13,650 $19,260
30% 2 person $16,440 $18,060 $15,600 $22,020
40% 1 person $19,200 $21,080 $18,200 $25,680
40% 2 person $21,920 $24,080 $20,800 $29,360
50% 1 person $24,000 $26,350 $22,750 $32,100
50% 2 person $27,400 $30,100 $26,000 $36,700
60%1 person $28,800 $31,620 $27,300 $38,520
60% 2 person $32,880 $36,120 $31,200 $44,040
80% 1 person $38,400 $42,160 $36,400 $51,360
80% 2 person $43,840 $48,160 $$41,600 $58,720
*By percentage of median income for county. Rittenberg only accepts tenants whose incomes are up to 60% of median income.
Atlantic County 2015 Tax Credit Affordable Rent Limits by Bedroom**
One bedroom Two bedroom
30% $385 $462
40% $514 $617
50% $642 $771
60% $771 $925
**For other counties and family housing income and rent limits up to 8 people in a family and five bedrooms visit state.nj.us/dca/hmfa/media/download/tax/incomelimits/tc_2015_income_limits.pdf/.
SOURCE: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
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