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 The Problems: Lack of Affordable Housing & Neighborhood Decay

Housing Opportunity Programs® ("HOPz®", pronounced "hopes") seeks to address two related problems, concurrently:


The need for additional affordable housing throughout New Jersey's urban and suburban communities; and that


The decline of "borderline" neighborhoods is exacerbated by the presence of dilapidated, "board-up" properties.

While there are many properties in need of "rehabilitation", we focus our efforts on rehabilitating existing 1-4 family residential houses in "borderline" neighborhoods. The presence of just a few "bad" properties can start, or exacerbate, the decline of an entire neighborhood, and we hope that by saving a few properties today we might also save the balance of the neighborhood tomorrow.

We believe that by investing a few dollars today repairing "bad" properties in "borderline" neighborhoods, we can save many more dollars in the future, by reducing the likelihood that other properties in these neighborhoods will also be abandoned.

Please read on:

Property Decline
A property can be "bad" even if it's located in a "good" neighborhood. Individual properties are obviously affected by their neighborhood, but also by many external factors. Individual properties are neglected or abandoned for almost as many reasons as there are properties.

In many cases, these properties are neglected by their owners for years. In addition to the physical deterioration, the property owners often ignore their financial responsibilities, such as paying property taxes and their mortgage. Thus, over time, the property is encumbered by "non-performing" mortgages, and outstanding taxes, greater than the "as is" value of the property.

Sometimes a property is "non-performing", but not physically neglected. "Non-Performing" is defined as a property not meeting its financial or social responsibilities. This might include not paying the mortgage or taxes, not paying condo or association dues, or having judgments or liens filed against it. Thus a property can look like every other house on the street, but actually be in deep trouble.

Properties can get to this point due to issues unrelated to that particular property. For example, the owner may be going through a divorce, or other personal or business problems. If the owner of a property needs money, s/he often "bleeds" one or more of their income generators, such as a business or income-producing real estate. In some cases the problems are exacerbated by lenders and remodeling companies that prey on low-income families with promises of "easy financing".

Once a property starts down this path, it's hard to stop. Maintenance is deferred, then repairs are not done. Taxes and mortgages go unpaid. It's not uncommon that many otherwise "good" properties are "bled", or otherwise allowed to waste away, financially and physically.

So, there are many reasons for a property to be "non-performing", and there are many "kinds" of non-performing properties. They all share one attribute: they are all disregarding their obligations, and becoming a drain on their communities.

The end result is that many are "recycled" through foreclosure and a Sheriff's Sale, and a new owner rejuvenates the property with new money and fresh enthusiasm.

However, some properties have so many financial or physical problems that no private party is willing to invest the time and money necessary to return the property to productive use. If the investment necessary to "fix" a property is greater than the property's value at the end, there's no reason anyone would do it. Economists and planners have written many papers and developed many models for this process, but simple math and common sense explains the situation.

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Neighborhood Decline
The downturn of a neighborhood can be set into motion when just a few properties "go bad". These vacant or otherwise neglected houses quickly become magnets for vandalism, drugs, and other criminal activity. The neighborhood deterioration spreads like a cancer, and too often results in widespread blight. Eventually, only large-scale costly redevelopment eliminates this social scourge.

This "property decay" is like human disease, in that it happens to rich and poor, white and black, large and small. Non-performing properties happen in urban and rural areas, to all ethnicities and income groups, commercial and residential properties, from single family homes to huge apartment complexes.

Most affordable housing and redevelopment initiatives focus on large-scale projects, neglecting individual properties that collectively constitute significant, and very desirable, housing stock. While large-scale projects can completely obliterate neighborhoods, small-scale "in fill" affordable housing projects preserve the character, historical architecture, and productive houses within a neighborhood.

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Local Charities Are Not Contractors
These distressed properties and neighborhoods may not be addressed by the local charities and social service organizations who usually recognize the problems first, and know the neighborhoods best. These organizations often don't have the business, administrative and construction expertise necessary to acquire and renovate distressed properties. They need to acquire dwellings in "move in" condition, at which point they can manage them.

This is where we fit in, we:
Acquire and
Renovate these problem properties; and then
Transfer them to one of the local charities or social service organizations
that can tenant and manage the property long term.

The problems are inter-related and cumulative: non-performing properties cannot provide decent affordable housing, and their presence often starts or aggravates the decline of surrounding properties. Many community-based organizations recognize the problems but don't have the skills or resources to address them. Thus, by eliminating a few "bad apples" today, we might save the rest of the "bushel" from decay tomorrow.

To read about our approach to reducing these problems, please go to the "HOPz Solutions" Page.

This web site is almost done. The "Latest News" Page is still blank, and our corporate brochure isn't finished. Thanks for your patience while we make this web site as useful as the properties we recover.

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For more information, please contact Charlotte Cohen at (732) 530-9601, extension 14, or click here to send Charlotte Cohen an email.

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