Council Hears How Affordable Apartments Will Be Filled


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At Monday’s meeting, the Verona Town Council heard about how Verona Flats, the affordable housing complex that is nearing completion, will handle the expressions of interest it has received and what the next round of affordable housing might look like.

Conifer Realty is the company building the three affordable housing buildings across from the Verona Community Center, two of which should be ready for occupancy in September. Sean Carpenter, Conifer’s senior vice president of development, said 2,500 people had filled out a form to express interest in getting one of the 95 apartments. When Conifer filtered out the duplicate submissions, it was left with about 1,400 people, one-third of whom have a Verona zip code. “There’s a good chance that many of those units will be occupied by folks who live and work in this community,” Carpenter said.

In early June, about 90 days before the first two buildings are ready for occupancy, Conifer will send people on the “interested” list an official application. People will need to complete the application, provide the required information on their finances and turn it in to Conifer by a specific day. Carpenter said applications would be handled on a “first come, first served” basis and that Conifer would be setting up an office in Verona to accept the applications, which will all be stamped with the date and time when they were submitted.

Conifer will evaluate applications by family size, income, and other criteria, such as whether the person has a disability. Ten units are reserved for people in the project’s lowest income tier and five are reserved for people with disabilities. Conifer also conducts information verification and a criminal background check, and Carpenter cautioned that not all of those who submit an application will qualify for an apartment in the end. Once an applicant has signed a lease, they will be able to move in as soon as Conifer gets its certificate of occupancy from the town. Applicants who do not get an apartment will be put on a waiting list.

Carpenter was also pressed on how many school-aged children Verona might expect from the new development. “You’ll have a few but it won’t be significant,” he said. (That was also the conclusion of a school demographics expert who presented a report to the Board of Education last September.) Carpenter also indicated that Conifer will be hiring a community manager to help the new residents with local services.

The Council then heard what the next round of affordable housing might look like from Dan Hauben of DMR Architects, a professional planning firm. He said that, unlike the last, the next round will be highly organized with a process for resolving disputes.

New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) must calculate the number of housing units for each town by October 28 of this year. Towns will have until January 31 of next year to adopt a resolution to accept the DCA number and, by next June 30, towns have to adopt a fourth round housing plan.

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