Joe Malinconico Paterson Press

PATERSON — The state has awarded Paterson Habitat for Humanity $2.6 million for the nonprofit organization to build 13 single-family homes in the city’s 4th Ward.

Habitat officials said the funding will allow them to meet a goal set about a decade ago of building 75 homes in the 4th Ward. The group’s focus during its first couple of decades in Paterson has been the city’s 1st Ward.

“This money is a game-changer for us,” said the group’s executive director, Scott Millard. “Without these funds, we wouldn’t be able to build these 13 homes. We’re beyond elated.”

This project will push Habitat’s 36-year total of new homes in Paterson to 299, Millard said. The 13 new homes will be built on the 100 blocks of Harrison and Governor streets, officials said.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is providing Paterson Habitat with the $2.6 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The state program had gone without funding for almost a decade and was revived during Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration, according to housing advocates.

“I am excited to see these affordable housing units become a reality,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “They will help strengthen the Paterson community, creating more diverse neighborhoods, while building a more prosperous and vibrant Passaic County.

“These homeownership units will provide 13 families with the opportunity to own an affordable place to call home,” she said.

Paterson Habitat uses private donations as well public funding programs to acquire properties. The organization builds or renovates houses on the land and then sells them to low-income families at no profit with zero-interest loans.

Families must perform 400 hours of community service — usually “sweat equity” in helping build others’ homes — to be eligible for Habitat homes. They also have to pay 1% of the purchase price up front, cover closing costs and then make monthly mortgage payments to Habitat.

“This will be life-changing for many families,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, a Paterson resident.

The grant to Paterson Habitat was part of more than $21 million in awards that the Murphy administration earmarked for organizations around the state using the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, officials said.

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