No matter who you are or where you’re from, we all deserve a place we can call home. Renting can be an excellent option for many families, but there is no feeling quite like knowing you own your home. Regretfully, however, in Trenton and throughout the country, families cannot access the resources needed for homeownership, leaving them at the mercy of rentals. However, the City of Trenton is on a mission to change that and put the power back in the hands of our community’s residents.
The New Beginnings Housing Program is a pilot initiative to encourage homeownership in Trenton and transform vacant properties into viable, taxable housing stock. This initiative identifies qualified residents of Trenton and connects them to a vacant property, affording both the home and the resident a new lease on life. To qualify, the City of Trenton’s housing officials will vet applicants to ensure that the costs of maintaining the home will be able to be held upon completion of the unit. The resident will then serve as the redeveloper of the team, working with local contractors to bring these blighted homes back to life.
The first participant in this revolutionary pilot program is Ms. Vanessa Solivan, a city resident who grew frustrated with the lack of resources available to create a meaningful path to homeownership. Rather than continuing to cope with the status quo, Ms. Solivan marched into City Hall and insisted that there had to be a better way. Trenton is home to dozens of blighted properties just waiting to be transformed, and this program offers a promising avenue to turn these burdens into blessings. Rather than demolishing homes and leaving behind a vacant lot, this program promises to bring these homes into the 21st century and make them viable, vibrant places of residence for the deserving members of our community.
While addressing the crowd at the program’s official launch, Mayor Gusciora noted, “We hope to expand this program as the years go on. We hope to get many more people into homeownership. We want to look at taking these abandoned homes, making them homes, and returning them to the community. This is an investment by the City of Trenton and the people that live here; to anybody out of town, but for the residents here to have a place called home.”
The woman of the hour, Vanessa Solivan, stated, “I didn’t want to rent anymore; I don’t want to spend another penny more of rent. I want to win something, and I want to leave it behind for my children and my family to build generational wealth. So far this past year, I’ve been pushing pretty hard, and now we’re standing in front of the first home [of the New Beginnings program], and I want to tell the people out there that this is the first home, but it will not be the last.”
This program is a true labor of love, joining forces across private, non-profit, and governmental entities to help make this vision a reality. In just a few short days, construction will begin on 651 North Clinton Ave., and this once-dilapidated property will someday soon be the newly restored home of Ms. Solivan and her family. With the home officially in her ownership, Ms. Solivan will now have the opportunity to live near and help out her mother, provide her children with a safe environment, and have something to pass down that will continue to benefit her family for generations.
As Ms. Solivan stated, although hers is just the first home in this program, it should certainly not be the last. This pilot offers a wonderful opportunity to empower Trenton residents while transforming the community’s vacant housing stock into something truly viable. There is no doubt that with the right tools in place, this program can be a true game changer, and we cannot wait to see the way these “New Beginnings” change the lives of our city’s residents.