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Elm Court II Affordable Housing Project Moves Forward With Help of HUD Grant

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Community Housing (PCH) received a nod from the Site Plan Review Advisory Board to move ahead with plans to build 68 additional one-bedroom units at Elm Court, the senior housing complex located on Elm Road.

The planned 44 percent expansion will bring the total number of units at the site to 155. A community kitchen, a dining room, and an apartment for the Elm Court superintendent will be included. The apartment is counted as one of the proposed 68 units.

PCH will next seek final approval of the Princeton Regional Planning Board on June 3 to expand Elm Court's original facilities that were built in 1985.

The 65,775 square-foot proposed expansion is down approxmately 13,000 square feet from the original proposal, according to PCH Executive Director Sandra Rothe.

"The footprint has shrunk a little bit, which is good for the neighbors to the north," she said.

Ms. Rothe added that the scaled-down plans were the result of community consensus between the neighborhood and PCH. Ms. Rothe said the new plans reflect the result of a settlement reached after a lawsuit was filed by the Mountain Brook Association, which comprises representatives of the Elm Road neighborhood.

Original PCH plans called for 74 units, six more than the current addition. Residents had also expressed concern on parking and lighting issues.

However, those matter have since been resolved, as indicated in the revised plan presented to SPRAB.

"All litigation is behind us now," Ms. Rothe said.

Major funding for the project comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In January, PCH received a grant from the department for over $7 million geared toward increasing affordable housing for seniors in Princeton.

The grant will cover approximately 75 percent of the cost of the addition.

The non-profit organization also received a $1.3 million commitment for Project Rental Assistance. That portion of the grant will subsidize rents for low-income seniors who qualify under HUD's Section 202 Supportive Housing Program.

The average resident's income at Elm Court is about $12,000 per year, but some residents earn as little as $6,000. However, all residents pay 30 percent of their income to receive housing at Elm Court. The highest income allowed for residence at Elm Court is $26,100 per year, but Ms. Rothe said that "very few" residents earn that much.

While receiving over $13,000 from private community donations to date, PCH is still working on fundraising events to fund the remaining 25 percent of construction costs not covered by the HUD grant.

"Right now we're thinking about fundraising," Ms. Rothe said. Currently, the organization has a piano concert scheduled for September 12 at the Princeton Theological Seminary. The Seminary holds a seat on PCH's board, along with all community churches, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, the YWCA, the Teacher's Association, and the League of Women Voters.

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