HACE is Celebrating its 85th Anniversary

Message from the Executive Director

William Jones

Executive Director

The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE) has worked diligently to satisfy an ever-increasing demand for affordable public housing, and to create safe and aesthetically pleasing homes while providing employment opportunities for our working-age residents. Having served in my role as Executive Director since 1996, I’ve had the honor to witness HACE’s growth. I oversee day-to-day functions of the Authority including staffing, program implementation, and the supervision of the Authority’s 1300 plus public housing units and its 1100 Section 8 Rental Assistance vouchers. The success we note rests wholly on the combined efforts and support of Mayor Chris Bollwage, city government officials, our Board of Commissioners, our staff and our residents. As Secretary-Treasurer to the Board of Commissioners, I am also afforded the unique opportunity to work with our Board members to ensure we are improving quality of life for all of our residents.

We are proud of our accomplishments! From the expansion of our Community and Support Services program; to the complete facelift of Mravlag Manor; to the 40% increase in the number of vouchers granted by the Section 8 Rental Assistance program; to the seamless inclusion of public housing residents in established, mixed-income neighborhoods – public housing is more attractive, more hospitable, and more dynamic than ever before.

Historically, we are known nationally for our multi-million dollar HOPE VI grant awarded in 2000, which replaced more than 600 obsolete public housing units with new townhouse dwellings. Occurring in the Elizabethport section, this initiative stimulated the redevelopment of an entire neighborhood. Also looking back, we celebrated 75 years of operation with the “Big Game Experience” in 2013 at the Met-Life Stadium.

We remain committed to this neighborhood with the 11 million-dollar project that included a 33-unit J. Christian Bollwage E’Port Commons senior building. Completed in 2011, the project was certified as the first Green LEED Gold residential affordable housing development in the State of New Jersey.

In recent years we have completed many capital improvements at our senior towers and family complexes. We have improved the lives of our residents with the on-site, social service facility of the Bayway Family Success Center and the New Life Direction program which targets our residing youths.

Also, food distribution programs remain a vital activity at all sites. The very popular Mravlag Manor program, in operation since 2016, has distributions three times a month.

Currently, we remain highly involved and visible. We are constructing a new, 60-unit, affordable housing project on First Street and Third Street in Elizabeth. We also recently completed a 36-unit Marina Village RAD Conversion project located in the HOPE VI neighborhood.

HACE was awarded the Jobs Plus Initiative pilot grant award in the amount of $2.3 million dollars on February 14, 2020. The grant was awarded to HACE but specifically assigned to Mravlag Manor and its residents. The purpose of this grant is to help HACE develop a local, job-driven approach to increase earnings and advance employment opportunities through job-technology skills and financial literacy. The three core components of the Jobs Plus Initiative program: employment-related services, financial incentives, and community support for work that will be used to assist in accomplishing goals. This exciting program, delayed because of the pandemic, kicked off on February 1, 2021.

In January 2021, HACE received notification that we would be eligible to host distribution clinics for the COVID-19 vaccines at our senior citizen buildings. Since January 11, each building including Farley Towers, Kennedy Arms, Ford-Leonard Towers, O’Donnell-Dempsey Towers, and 205 First Street have distributed 1600 vaccine doses to residents, staff, and volunteers. The second dose clinics continued throughout the month of February with the final round of clinics having been offered in late February and the beginning of March.

Because of HACE’s involvement with the vaccine distribution, we were asked by Trinitas Hospital to assist in advertising and marketing vaccination clinics hosted by the hospital. Trinitas will continue to conduct clinics at the Dunn Sports Center at Elizabeth High School on alternating days from the City FEMA distributions. Since discussions, HACE has assisted in sharing information to residents of Union County regarding where they can sign up to be vaccinated. The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth educated the community by providing the registration link to the Trinitas patient portal site to more than 10 agencies that serve Elizabeth and Union County, particularly those agencies that serve our most vulnerable populations and senior citizens.

Finally, we have developed many working relationships with community partners such as the Elizabeth Development Company, Urban League, PROCEED Inc., Kean University, World Central Kitchen, Rutgers University, and the New Jersey Health Foundation to enhance a full range of activities for our residents.

I am looking forward to the continued progress of the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth and thank everyone involved for their support on our journey.