The Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corp. (RCHP-AHC) is committed to providing housing for low- and very-low income people, many of whom meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and/or NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) definition of “special needs.” What sets us apart from other housing developers is our extreme passion for providing not just four walls around a person, but an intentional compassionate community that welcomes, embraces and supports them as well.
This takes shape in a myriad of ways, from providing a cheerful welcome at the RCHP office where residents residing in local projects can drop in, pay their rent, use the copier, send a fax, and most importantly hang out with Lisa, the church secretary, for a dose of laughter, warmth, encouragement and motherly/sisterly/friendly advice to finding creative ways of assisting residents in getting job skills and making a few dollars by providing short term volunteer/work opportunities in a variety of projects. It includes the involvement of the RCHP, and wider, community in providing rides, employment, meals, holiday gifts, mentoring, tutoring, furniture and other donations, as well as respect, friendship, understanding, kindness and tolerance to the residents in our projects whose humanity is invisible to a society that largely marginalizes them.
It also includes being an understanding landlord, one that balances financial responsibility and accountability with an understanding that the residents for whom we provide housing occasionally fall on even harder times than those that brought them to us in the first place, and need the benefit of additional time or supportive services, to help them pay their rent and/or abide by the provisions of their lease.
As of January 2016, RCHP Affordable Housing Corp. owns eleven properties, providing housing for 79 tenants (of whom ten are children) and five Resident Assistants. One of the properties owned by RCHP-AHC, Flower House, is operated by Enable, Inc., our social service partner in providing services for people with developmental disabilities, and another property, Oak Tree Road, is in the process of being turned over to Enable, who will then become the owner. RCHP-AHC received funding from a variety of governmental agencies for acquisition of ten of these eleven properties, with one property, Brill House in Newark, being funded by a loan from the Reformed Church of America Church Growth Fund (RCA-CGF). The RCA-CGF also contributed partial funding for one other house, purchased with government funds, to enable us to do required renovations.
RCHP-AHC manages three additional properties, owned by other entities, for which we identify, screen and place tenants, provide property management services and collect rent. This “management only” arrangement allows us to provide additional units of housing for very low income people in cases where we do not have funds available for acquisition.