Menendez, Booker, Norcross Announce $13.2M Federal Grant to Revitalize Camden’s Mt. Ephraim Neighborhood, Spur Economic Growth

Menendez, Booker, Norcross Announce $13.2M Federal Grant to Revitalize Camden’s Mt. Ephraim Neighborhood, Spur Economic Growth

CAMDEN, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), today announced that the City of Camden and its Housing Authority have been awarded a $13.2 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to advance the city’s efforts to transform the Mt. Ephraim South neighborhood from an area with high poverty and struggling schools to a thriving, social and economic center.

“When all is said and done, this plan is about empowerment, investment and opportunity.  It’s about Camden’s families and their futures.  It’s about safety, quality housing and education, and access to good jobs,” said Sen. Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development.  “As a former mayor, I recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to revitalizing our neighborhoods.  It takes a comprehensive approach, a locally-driven plan, and collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors, local organizations and institutions to ensure the investments necessary to make that vision a reality.  I applaud Mayor Dana Redd’s tenacity, leadership and vision to move Camden forward and improve the lives of her residents.”

“I was proud to have worked closely with Mayor Redd and my colleagues in helping secure this vital federal funding and applaud the continued pursuit and securing of federal grants and commitment to Camden families,” said Sen. Booker.  “Helping lift up our most vulnerable families and creating opportunities through federal investments like this is the key to strengthening our neighborhoods.  By increasing access to safe, affordable housing, quality education and creating jobs, this federal funding will help maintain Camden on a path toward continued resurgence.”

“Today’s announcement highlights our collective commitment to ensuring residents of Camden have affordable, safe places to call home.  These funds will go a long way changing lives and generating the transformation of this Camden neighborhood for generations to come,” said Rep. Norcross.  “I’m proud to have supported this federal grant initiative and look forward to Camden’s best days, which are still ahead.”

The federal investment announced today will leverage and be supported by nearly $280 million in additional private and public resources, and will serve as a catalyst for housing market renewal, new private and public investment, and economic development.  With this investment, Camden’s families will be linked to jobs in the neighborhood and region, have enhanced access to critically needed preventive health and mental health services, and greater opportunities to build their credit and savings.

“This is such a tremendous achievement for the City of Camden, its partners and of course our residents,” said Mayor Redd.  “Camden has invested an incredible amount of effort to ensure our application was competitive and received favorably by federal officials.  I applaud HUD for working with the City and our partners throughout the application process and for deciding to award Camden with the Choice designation.  I also commend Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, and Congressman Norcross for their unwavering support and advocacy for Camden at the federal level.  The Choice designation will be transformative, leveraging funding and support services for the targeted community while impacting development efforts citywide.”

The boundaries of the Mt. Ephraim Corridor South Choice Neighborhood.
View photos from the event here.

The neighborhood plan incorporates redevelopment, rehabilitation, and infill housing strategies as the basis for overall neighborhood transformation with a focus on creating new connections along key corridors that link residential areas with schools, open space, transit, and retail amenities. 

At the heart of the Choice Neighborhoods revitalization will be the redevelopment of Branch Village, a severely distressed site that will be replaced with 176 new townhomes and a 50-unit senior facility in two separate phases.  Business façade improvements are also planned for the Mt. Ephraim Avenue corridor.

The Camden City School District will spend up to $50 million to build two new state-of-the-art Renaissance schools—a K-8 and high school—in Mt. Ephraim South with extensive early childhood education and other educational improvement efforts.

Sen. Menendez is the lead sponsor of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Act, legislation to make the initiative permanent and to ensure that it is adequately funded.  Last week, Sen. Menendez reintroduced the bill.

Camden received a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant in 2012 to design the plan, and is the first New Jersey applicant to receive an Implementation Grant.  Asbury Park, Newark and Jersey City have also previously received Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants. 

In September, Camden was awarded $1,469,347 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to fund street improvements in downtown Camden, provide connections to the region’s major transportation center, revitalize the area, and support initiatives that expand the competitiveness of the existing industrial clusters.

Earlier that month, Sens. Menendez and Booker, Rep. Norcross and Mayor Redd stood in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge to tour the site of a North Camden revitalization project spearheaded by a $16.2 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded in July from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).