NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ-Adding more fuel to the urban fire that has been gaining momentum in New Jersey over the past couple of years, Fannie Mae, Public Service Electric & Gas–NJ’s largest utility–and the State of New Jersey are putting $14 million on the table as an incentive to get developers to build more urban housing. The program was announced at a press conference here on Friday, and New Brunswick is one of seven cities targeted for the largesse. The others are Trenton, Camden, Paterson, Newark, Jersey City and East Orange.

The program goes by the name of Cool Cities. Besides the connotation that NJ’s cities are now a cool place to build, it also relates to the fact that that qualifying new homes must meet the standards of PSE&G’s Five-Star Energy Efficient Home Program.

“Our cities are coming back,” says Jane Kenny, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Her agency is kicking in a total of $5 million.

The way Cool Cities works is that homebuilders will be courted to build affordable urban homes for sale rather than rentals as a means of stabilizing neighborhoods. DCA will provide up to $45,000 per unit to help offset construction costs. Two major institutions, Bank of New York and Valley National Bank, both correspondents for Fannie Mae, will provide the rest of the money to the developers to get the homes built. As they are sold, the construction loans from the two banks will revert to the buyers in the form of mortgages. PSE&G will provide financial assistance based on its Five-Star program.

“The assistance is out there,” says Kenny. “Now, we need some developers to come forward and take advantage of this program.”

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