NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–On February 11, community organizers and residents gathered for the ribbon cutting of Dina's Dwellings, a community complex in downtown New Brunswick that offers permanent and supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence.
This project was organized and created by Town Clock Community Development Corporation, led by Reverend Susan Kramer-Mills of the First Reformed Church.
This historic building, originally built in 1812, has been successfully refurbished to provide 10 affordable housing units within the supportive structure for domestic violence survivors who are leaving the shelter system and in need of affordable and permanent housing.
Town Clock Community Development Corporation began this project in 2008 with the hope that Dina's Dwellings would "empower women" and as a result get them "back on their feet," states their website.
Those who attended this celebratory gathering included Mayor Cahill and Anthony Marchetta who is the Executive Director of New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Community organizer Reverend Susan Kramer-Mills spoke at the ribbon cutting and explained that "the church realized that, as I put in my speech, that it was not utilizing the building's full potential. So therefore we put together a church committee and began to investigate, over a 2 1/2 year period, what they could do."
After heartwarming speeches given by Reverend Susan Kramer Mills, Mayor Cahill, Reverend Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills, and Anthony Marchetta, community residents were invited to tour the brand new apartment units.
The layout of the apartments were visibily well thought out and suitable for women and their families. Each kitchen housed new appliances and wooden cabinets, while the rest of the apartment lay bare awaiting its new residents. The apartment units incorporates orginal architecture, such as columns and large windows, to give it a regal feel.
Constructing these apartments within the First Reformed Church, however, resulted in the decrease of congregational space.
Reverend Susan Kramer-Mills said, "it is a sacrifice for a congregation to lose over half of its sanctuary, but it is a gain in that it is really incorporating mission within its walls and because of that there is a lot of opportunity in the future, so it is a loss but it is also a gain."
Organizers behind Dina's Dwellings are thrilled with the result and are hopeful for possibilities in the future.
For more information, visit http://townclockcdc.org/