2022 Under One Roof Honorees

Jerry Green Legacy Award,
Senator Ronald L. Rice

As one of the longest-serving state senators in New Jersey history, Ronald L. Rice served the people of NJ's 28th Legislative District until his retirement at the end of August. For 18 years, Senator Rice chaired the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, whose mission is to “prioritize legislative and policy agendas to ensure that people of color, in particular, are treated equally, and justly when it comes to social justice, economic justice, and criminal justice reform.” Throughout his unparalleled career, he never backed down from doing what is right for the people who need it most, leading with principles, integrity and compassion. We honor Senator Rice for his tenacious leadership creating the Lead Hazard Control Fund and the State Rental Assistance Program, two programs that are unique to NJ and exist because he fought to make them a reality. He also shepherded the Foreclosure Mediation Program, renter protections and a host of other housing programs. Senator Rice has been a fierce advocate for NJ residents and a true champion for our most vulnerable neighbors and communities. He will be missed in the
State House. 

Community Development Champion,
Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz
In 2007, Senator Teresa Ruiz became the first Puerto Rican elected and later the highest ranking Latina legislator in state history after being elected Senate Majority Leader. She represents the 29th Legislative District and is a strong voice for NJ's vibrant Latino community. She has fought for equity in educational spaces, acting as the leading force in expanding access to early childhood education throughout the state. She also spearheaded the law to build on the federal free and reduced meal program so that all students who qualify for the program could receive breakfast and lunch at no cost, eliminating the reduced category. The senator has also focused on expanding employment opportunities for underserved communities, sponsoring bill packages to expand apprenticeship programs in the state and increase teacher diversity. For being a sponsor and a strong advocate for many of the Network’s legislative priorities including requiring Lead Paint Inspections, Land Banking, and expanding liability of limited liability companies acting as a residential landlord, the Network honors Senate Majority Leader Ruiz as the 2022 Community Development Champion.

Hall of Heroes Inductee,
Connie Mercer
Connie Mercer founded HomeFront from her kitchen table 31 years ago to organize volunteers to deliver meals and clothing to homeless families living in motels along Route 1 in Mercer County. The organization has grown to over 100 employees and over 3000 volunteers to comprehensively address the needs of the homeless. In 2021, the agency answered 52,439 calls for help for shelter, homelessness prevention, permanent service-enriched housing, job training, children’s programming, food, and other essentials. She helped found the Shelter Providers Consortium of NJ that brings together homeless shelters and advocacy groups together to address needs of shelters and their residents. Last month, Connie left HomeFront to focus her efforts on addressing the issue of homelessness more broadly at the state and national levels by leading the Shelter Providers Consortium as the Executive Director of the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness. We honor Connie for being a strong partner of the Network, advocating for policies to end homelessness as well as serving on our Board of Directors. The Network looks forward to working with Connie as she embarks on her newest endeavor.

Exceptional Community Partner,
NJ Center for Nonprofits
For 40 years, the NJ Center for Nonprofits has worked to build the power of our state's nonprofit community. Their vision of advancing a civically engaged society and equitably delivering a thriving quality of life to all communities throughout the state of New Jersey is a vision shared by the Network in our efforts build a thriving NJ. Through training opportunities and resource sharing, the NJ Center for Nonprofits has been a strong support for the nonprofit community. Under the leadership of President and CEO Linda Czipo, the New Jersey Center for Nonprofits has been a highly visible leader, champion, convener, and resource for and about New Jersey’s nonprofit community and an exceptional community partner.

Advocacy and Organizing Award,
Lead-Free NJ
Lead-Free New Jersey is an equitable and inclusive collaborative working to ensure that New Jersey’s children are free from lead poisoning and that our environment is lead-safe by advocating for changes to state and local policy. The collaborative also seeks to eliminate racial and economic inequities by focusing on legacy lead hazards in low-income communities and/or communities of color. The idea at the core of Lead-Free NJ is that lead-free policies must be representative and equitable to create lasting change.  This year, Lead-Free NJ fought for and won a significant investment for lead remediation in the state budget. The collaborative's advocacy ensured that lead remained a priority for decision makers paving the way for a truly lead-free NJ.

Outstanding Municipal Partner – Neighborhood Revitalization
Burlington City & Habitat for Humanity of South Central NJ
After receiving funding through New Jersey’s Neighborhood Preservation Program, Burlington City partnered with Habitat for Humanity of South Central NJ to help revitalize the city’s New London District. Together, Habitat for Humanity and Burlington City worked to improve the neighborhood for residents, property owners, and businesses alike within the district. The municipality helped identify projects, hosted town halls, participated in events and so much more! Through this partnership, Habitat built numerous homes in the New London District and offered home repairs for current homeowners. Burlington has always been good to Habitat by donating properties for affordable homeownership and by spreading Habitat’s mission through social media and marketing.

Outstanding Municipal Partner – New Development
City of Newark & Urban League of Essex County
Located in the City of Newark’s West Ward, the Fairmount Heights Homes Phase I project was realized through a partnership between the City of Newark and the Urban League of Essex County (ULEC). The municipality sold ULEC the vacant land at a discounted price and provided $595,000 in HUD HOME funding to subsidize the construction of the homes thereby making them affordable for area residents. Several community meetings were held to develop a neighborhood plan. There, residents requested more affordable homeownership opportunities to retain area families as a form of increasing economic wealth. The Mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka, has included affordable homeownership development in his housing plan for the next 5 years. As a result of this partnership, ULEC was able to build two- and three-family homes ranging from $240,000 - $350,000. These homes are certified energy star and meet green community standards; they are built with metal roofs and hardy plank siding.

Outstanding Municipal Partner – New Development
City of Bridgeton & Gateway Community Action Partnership
The City of Bridgeton is home to the RiverGrove Apartments, a 100 percent affordable rental community featuring 68 affordable homes. The project is the result of the joint efforts between Gateway Community Action Partnership, the Cumberland Empowerment Zone Corporation, and Eastern Pacific Development. The City of Bridgeton provided a PILOT of 5 percent per annum for the project which is supplemented by other financing partners including the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, Enterprise Community Investments, the USDA, and TD Bank. RiverGrove includes 34, three-bedroom duplexes, totaling approximately 1,300 square feet each. 52 of the apartments also have an attached garage. The project includes 40 USDA subsidized rental units for full-time farm workers, and 28 units which will be rented at market rates. Amenities include a range, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, gas heat, electric central air, on-site property management, and planned social activities.

Outstanding Municipal Partner – Healthy Homes and Communities
City of Newark, The Newark Board of Education, La Casa de Don Pedro, & Clinton Hill Community Action
In Newark’s South Ward, the community identified concerns about the lack of quality early childhood education options. Out of that concern, the Clinton Hill Early Learning Center was born. The Center was designed in collaboration with two experienced early childhood providers, La Casa de Don Pedro, the city’s largest community-based early childhood provider, and Clinton Hill Community & Early Childhood Center, which has operated a high-quality early childhood program in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. The partnership leverages 48 federally funded Early Head Start seats provided by La Casa de Don Pedro and 150 pre-K seats awarded to Clinton Hill Community & Early Childhood Center. This light-filled, two-story facility transforms a long-vacant blighted site into a 40,000-square-foot facility focused on learning and early childhood development. It also features 16 classrooms – capable of offering educational and extended child care services for nearly 200 children, from birth to 5 years old – a secure inner courtyard, a multipurpose room that is available for community use, a family child care resource room and a commercial kitchen. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger Leon stressed how this new investment in the Clinton Hill community aligns with their shared commitment to ensuring that every child in Newark has a safe and healthy start in life.

Outstanding Community Partner
Morris Habitat for Humanity & Roxbury High School
The 501 Edith Road Project is a collaboration between Morris Habitat for Humanity and Roxbury High School. Under the leadership of Roxbury HS Structural Design teacher Frank Caccavale, students built a single-family home through a variety of technical and construction skills. Students followed the process of building a modular home being guided each step of the way from planning to final completion. The home was built in two modules that were transported to the site at 501 Edith Road in Landing. There the modules were secured to the foundation and to each other. During class, students developed many different skill sets from reading architectural drawings to framing, to electrical and plumbing systems and more.

Outstanding National Housing Trust Fund Award
Triple C Housing
Administered by the NJ Department of Community Affairs, the National Housing Trust Fund is a federal housing program exclusively focused on providing states with the resources they need to serve households with the most acute housing needs. In 2016, the first distribution of $174 million in Housing Trust Fund dollars were allocated to states. To date, New Jersey has received over $85 million through the program. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Triple C Housing has been approved for five projects in Middlesex and Ocean Counties totaling 10 homes in 6 properties. These projects have allowed Triple C to house two individuals and 8 families (for a total of 33l members) who were previously homeless, victims of domestic violence, or where the head of household has a diagnosed mental illness. The over $3,850,000 in capital funding has allowed Triple C to leverage nearly $750,000 in private financing. Permanent housing is one of the leading social determinants of health; these properties are transforming lives by providing residents with a safe, quality, affordable homes in a healthy community.

LASTING ACHIEVEMENT HONOREES
A recognition of our community development members who are reaching milestone anniversaries over 25 years

REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION
Celebrating 100 Years

BERGEN COUNTY'S UNITED WAY
Celebrating 60 Years

PRINCETON COMMUNITY HOUSING
Celebrating 55 Years

LA CASA DE DON PEDRO
Celebrating 50 Years

UNIFIED VAILSBURG SERVICES ORGANIZATION 
Celebrating 50 Years

BETTER COMMUNITY HOUSING OF TRENTON
Celebrating 50 Years

   BELMONT HOMES (GOD SQUAD)
  Celebrating 45 Years 

ELIZABETH DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
Celebrating 45 Years

CATHOLIC CHARITIES DIOCESE OF METUCHEN
Celebrating 40 Years

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF SALEM COUNTY
Celebrating 40 Years

JEWISH COMMUNITY HOUSING CORPORATION OF METROPOLITAN NJ
Celebrating 40 Years

NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SERVICES OF STATEN ISLAND
Celebrating 40 Years

NJ CENTER FOR NONPROFITS
Celebrating 40 Years

NJ CITIZEN ACTION
Celebrating 40 Years

CENTRAL JERSEY HOUSING RESOURCE CENTER
Celebrating 35 Years

GATEWAY COMMUNITY ACTION PARTNERSHIP
Celebrating 35 Years

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF SOUTH CENTRAL NJ
Celebrating 35 Years

NJ COMMUNITY CAPITAL
Celebrating 35 Years

NJ FUTURE
Celebrating 35 Years

HOUSING PARTNERSHIP NEIGHBORWORKS HOMEOWNERSHIP CENTER
Celebrating 30 Years

OPERATION HOPE
Celebrating 30 Years

FAMILY PROMISE OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
Celebrating 25 Years

NJ POLICY PERSPECTIVE
Celebrating 25 Years