Scott Morgan/The Michaels Organization

Cramer Hill Family is the first of four visionary phases in the complete redevelopment of Ablett Village, the oldest public housing community in Camden City, New Jersey.

Built in the 1940s, Ablett Village had fallen into disrepair and needed to be revitalized. The Michaels Organization and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden partnered to not only create new homes but also improve resident health and better connect them with their community.

Cramer Hill Family provides 75 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units for residents earning between 30% and 80% of the area median income.

In addition, the development includes an on-site health clinic operated by Virtua Health, Rutgers University School of Nursing, the County of Camden Health Department, CamCare Health, and other partners.

Scott Morgan/The Michaels Organization

Cramer Hill Family comes after out-of-state developers threatened to displace residents to make way for a golf course and a marina. Not wanting to leave their neighborhood, the families organized and formed their own plan with the help of Michaels and the housing authority.

“This effort is the vision of a resident-led collaborative engagement process over three years,” says Nick Cangelosi, senior vice president at Michaels. “It represents a holistic vision of all stakeholders, largely the residents.”

The community received a federal Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2018 to help shape and implement its vision.

Strategically integrated with the rest of the Cramer Hill neighborhood across three separate sites, the new homes are within walking distance of schools and major employers who have committed to hiring local workers.

“Ablett Village was developed away from the community itself,” Cangelosi says. “Now that we’re developing homes that are in the immediate community, it’s no longer you live in Ablett Village. You live in Cramer Hill. You’re a neighbor. You’re part of the neighborhood.”

The $27 million development is part of a larger $145 million effort that will feature 425 new sustainable and mixed-income homes.