Interest swells for affordable housing units in Sparta

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    SPARTA-The list grows daily. Just the other day, Teresa Savio said she alone fielded at least 20 calls from people of modest incomes hoping to land a piece of Sparta. Savio, a program director for the Housing Partnership of Morris County, said more than 200 hopefuls have already been classified as "interested parties" for entry into a lottery for the rights to purchase one of 32 new affordable one- to three-bedroom homes being built on two sites within the township. "There's definitely a high interest," said Savio. "Sparta's a great place to live. When affordable housing is as scarce as it is, anyone would be willing to buy a home in Sparta." Two weeks ago, some 50 potential residents showed up at the Sparta Municipal Building for an informational meeting where they learned of eligibility requirements, locations, pricing, the lottery process, property resale and capital improvements for the restricted condominiums currently under construction off Woodport Road and Fisher Lane behind the bowling alley In September, the Sparta Township Council approved an application by Sparta Builders, L.L.C. to begin construction of 120 multifamily attached housing units near Route 181. The project includes 15 buildings, associated roads, detention basins, retaining walls, play and parking areas as well as open space. The units comprise 96 market rate multifamily attached units and 24 affordable multifamily units. OF the total 120 units, 36 are flat-style units and 84 are townhouse-style units. An additional eight affordable two-story homes along Route 15 will also be offered for purchase through the lottery. The homes at both sites are expected to be completed within the next year. Housing Partnership for Morris County is administering the affordable housing units. Income maximums apply under regulations of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing. For a household of one, income cannot exceed $41,700; two, $47,657; and three, $53,614. Preliminary cost estimates for the units range from $50,000 for a one-bedroom home to $125,000 for a three-bedroom, said Savio. The court-mandated affordable housing program in New Jersey was created in 1987 to facilitate the production of adequate, affordable housing for low and moderate income households by setting an effective process for municipalities, housing providers, non-profit and for-profit developers to address the obligation through comprehensive planning. But through the end of 2003, only 147 or 23 percent of the required 649 units have been built or were under construction in Sussex County municipalities. Savio said she has not seen anything at her agency comparable to the outpouring of interest in the Sparta units. "We've had unending phone calls," said Savio. "It may not be the best situation for a lot of people, but there's definitely a high interest in obtaining information and getting involved with the purchase process of these units." A second meeting is tentatively scheduled for the evening of June 16 in Sparta, at a site yet to be determined, said Savio. The Housing Partnership is a non-profit organization funded in part through the Neighborworks Organization, a national non-profit that provides assistance to organizations that rebuild communities and households. It also receives grants from United Way, the federal government, financial institutions and foundations.