Residents at the Marion Gardens affordable housing complex now have a new community center, computer lab, and place to shoot some baskets after Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Housing Authority officially cut the ribbon on the upgrades on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
The resident-focused community investments at the Marion Gardens Complex include new programs and facilities such as a refurbished basketball court, a brand new community center, and a Head Start Early Childhood Center which will offer enrollment priority for residents of the complex.
“These new facilities were built with the residents’ needs at the forefront, and is the latest step in the city’s ongoing efforts to enhance accessibility to high-quality childcare and after school services, while modernizing affordable housing sites,” said Mayor Fulop. “Through its collaborations with community-based organizations, JCHA is working hard to create an innovative collaborative services model that will serve to empower residents and ultimately strengthen the Jersey City community.”
The community center, named after longtime Marion Gardens resident Betty Morris, will house an after-school program through a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County. The program will provide academic programming and hands-on learning opportunities that reinforce what was learned during the school day for students in second to eighth grades.
“We cherish the opportunity to provide a comprehensive cutting-edge program model that will give JCHA’s youth residents the knowledge and skills they need to become positive and productive adults in today’s competitive society,” said Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County Gary Greenberg. “By investing in our youth, we strengthen our communities.”
Plenty of perks
The new Betty Morris Community Center includes a computer lab, kitchen, and a large meeting space that will accommodate resident programming, as well as private events, according to the city.
The new after-school program is part of the JCHA’s comprehensive after-school initiative at each JCHA family site, including Booker T. Washington, Curries Woods, Holland Gardens, and Hudson Gardens. The Boys and Girls Club will offer after-school programs at Booker T. Washington, Curries Woods, and Marion Gardens while Jersey Arts Exchange will offer after-school programs at Holland Gardens and Hudson Gardens.
The new Head Start early childhood programming will be offered by Greater Bergen Community Action and will serve children up to five years old. It will provide early childhood education by qualified staff through direct hands-on experiences with language, communication, math, creative arts, science, and technology.
To prepare for the program, JCHA conducted a complete renovation of the Marion Gardens community center and incorporated additional space to create state-of-the-art classrooms and staff offices.
Greater Bergen Community Action serves more than 2,000 children and families across Hudson, Passaic, and Bergen counties, 600 of which are in Jersey City.
“We are delighted to be opening another brand new Head Start facility,” said Dr. Allan De Giulio, director of Greater Bergen Community Action. “We have thoroughly enjoyed our partnership with the Jersey City Housing Authority, and we’re looking forward to other opportunities to work with the creative team heading the JCHA, so that we can continue to upgrade the facilities in which Head Start children and families are served.”
The Marion Gardens basketball court has been resurfaced, repainted, and enclosed with new fencing.
“The Jersey City Housing Authority is incredibly excited to unveil the new Early Head Start facility, the Betty Morris Community Center, and our revitalized basketball court to Marion Gardens residents,” said JCHA Executive Director Vivian Brady-Phillips. “These projects reaffirm the JCHA’s commitment to modern and functional facilities as well as evidence-based programming for residents. The JCHA is thrilled to partner with Great Bergen Community Action, Jersey Arts Exchange, the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, and others on these collaborative efforts and look forward to expanding community partnerships in the future for the benefit of residents.”