September 3, 2008

Jon Bon Jovi helps build homes in Newark

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NEW JERSEY -- One of New Jersey's best-known rock 'n' rollers has teamed up with the state to provide affordable housing in the state's largest city.

Jon Bon Jovi's Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation is providing $1 million toward construction of a 51-unnn=uilding that will cater to homeless people with special needs, like AIDS patients.

The $15 million building, called Genesis Apartments, will rise where there is now a vacant lot. Joining Bon Jovi at Monday's ground breaking were Gov. Jon Corzine, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, fashion designer Kenneth Cole and his wife, Maria Cuomo Cole, who runs HELP USA, a national nonprofit that is helping to build the units.

"Today I believe we're starting something," Bon Jovi said. "Together, I believe we can make a difference, one street, one neighborhood, one city, one soul at a time." Bon Jovi, who's foundation has built affordable housing in Philadelphia, New Orleans and other cities, said he teamed up with Cole to design and market a line of jackets in 2006 to raise awareness to combat homelessness. Profits from that line provided the money for the Newark project, he said.

"Just like a band, our family is a team effort," Bon Jovi said. "It's what I like to refer to as the power of we."

Bon Jovi also gave a boost to Newark when his band performed 10 sold-out concerts as the inaugural act at the city's new arena last year.

Booker pointed out that Bon Jovi chose Newark when he received higher paying offers to play elsewhere. As Bon Jovi himself noted, some reacted to his choice of city and venue with a disbelieving, "Really?"

Booker presented Bon Jovi with a glass rendering of the new housing complex made by Newark schoolchildren, jokingly telling the audience, "I've got a man-crush on this guy."

Turning serious, Booker said, "I know what the word 'American' means because my mom and dad told me every day: This country was born out of collective sacrifice. And those who can must do for others to continue the idea and the dream of America."

Corzine touted the public-private partnership building the Newark units, which are part of his administration's goal of building 100,000 units of low-income housing within 10 years.

"A housing-first approach is absolutely essential on a lot of fronts," Corzine said, especially when trying to treat HIV/AIDS patients.

Corzine also noted the state's contribution to the project: $3.6 in financing and $7.5 million in tax credits, on top of $2 million from Department of Community Affairs.

Residents of the building will receive social services and job training. A quarter of the units reserved for tenants who have AIDS.



 

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