Friday, May 18, 2007

Kudos to Faith, Bricks and Mortar

It's easy to define the problem, to restate it many times over... and Plainfield certainly has its share... of problems and problem staters. The real challenge is to state the solution and then make it happen. Luckily for Plainfield, we have a good supply of doers, people who make our city better through their hard work. And they are an inspiration to the rest of us. They give us hope to sustain our work on behalf of Plainfield.

This is the story of a successful development project recently done in the 2nd Ward near City Hall and the downtown train station. It is dedicated to the non-profit housing development group Faith, Bricks and Mortar, whose President is Robert Wilson. His team of unsung volunteers make home ownership a reality for Plainfielders who would otherwise have no opportunity to be part of the American dream.

Picture East 7th Street near Watchung Ave, a well traveled street in a "transitional" residential neighborhood. "Transitional" meaning some well kept homes, apartment buildings and churches along with some run down properties. A few crime hotspots nearby. A neglected building, shown to the right, is now getting some attention after decades of decline. Picture an outstanding art gallery in a historic building across from an old Victorian multi-family house that has seen better days. A neighborhood that could go uphill or downhill.

This dilapidated Victorian becomes abandoned. Does it burn down, get replaced by a cheap, modern looking prefab home or just gradually fall apart? Fortunately for Plainfield the unexpected happens. Faith, Bricks and Mortar is asked by the city to take on this project.

There are very few developers who would do this project. And likely none who would do what Faith, Bricks and Mortar did. Not only do they restore the exterior to its early days of glory, not only do they create condo units to keep it on the tax rolls, they reduce the density of the property from a six family to a two family. This non-profit group takes on financial risk to make this happen and they succeed. Both units are sold and the neighborhood tilts in a positive direction.

Check out the Faith, Bricks and Mortar building today (I wish a had a "before"photo):
I will highlight people and projects in Plainfield in the future because this is what makes Plainfield a community worth living in, a place to be proud of. No local group deserves more thanks than Robert Wilson and his Faith, Bricks and Mortar crew.

1 comment:

BlueMojito said...

My concern is that there is a moral conflict of interest with Faith Based Organizations. FBOs receive federal grants designed to promote wealth and prosperity. Faith Based Organizations cannot used federal dollars to even purchase religious materials such as Bibles, Torah, etc. How do you maintain that beneficiaries of FBO's uphold the values of the donor organizations? Just my two cents, but I think this promotes ATM Machine churching... As a Catholic school girl, I have always followed the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor..."