Project Freedom continues to grow our housing units by partnering with several local municipalities in Mercer County as well as those from across the State. Over time we have modified our housing design and amenities to better reflect the needs and wants of our tenant consumers. Our target population has also changed from strictly the physically disabled to also include “regular” non-disabled folks and their families. So, now, we do house families with children and folks who may not be disabled. This is because our State, New Jersey, like so many other states, have recognized that inclusionary housing, that is disabled and non-disabled provides a better more natural and wholesome environment for everyone to live.
Although recognizing this kind of change, we still have continued to make our disabled population a priority. That means we continue to build and design all of our units as accessible, so that someone who uses a wheelchair can easily manage any of our apartments. Anyone can use the roll in showers, the lowered countertops and the accessible kitchens and appliances. Our overall site topography is also created so that there are no serious hills or slopes for which a wheelchair would find difficult to manage.
We also are trying to use less land as the large sites are also much more expensive to develop….more roads and sidewalk to build and maintain. So, in order to maintain our numbers, we are designing a three story building, with elevator, that can provide cost savings overall. We are hoping that these changes will enhance our building design while creating a lower overall cost.
The emphasis on cost reduction is because of the change in the new Federal Tax Law, which has reduced the tax liability for large companies and investors from 35 % to 21%. By doing so, this change has reduced the value of the Tax Credit pricing over .05 Cents on the dollar, which overall can mean we lose about $500,000 for our projects. This loss means that we need to become much more efficient, overall, when budgeting for our projects. The trick here is to figure out what to eliminate without compromising quality and valued amenities.
By building a three story building, rather than a two story, and reducing the total number of buildings from six to four, we hope to save around 20% of the cost of our project costs. These are changes that we need to do, in order to keep within our available funding. Along with these negative pressures on funding, we are seeing more and more demands from local towns to fulfill their affordable housing requirements, which is a positive change. The Affordable Housing issue is currently being dealt with in the courts, with judges negotiating the final numbers. And from what we are seeing, those towns that don’t settle along the way, are getting higher final quotes on housing than they like. This is what is fueling the current demand for affordable housing in New Jersey towns.
So, Project Freedom continues to change and adapt to the current housing market in order to continue to serve our Mission.