November 9, 2021
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Project Freedom broke ground for a new development with 72 units, called “Freedom Village At Hamilton Woods” today located at Justice Samuel A. Alito Way &Whitehorse Mercerville Road.
Congressman Chris Smith thanked members of Project Freedom for the tremendous work that has been done to make affordable, accessible and barrier free housing available to people. Congressman Smith met Executive Director, Norman Smith three and a half decades ago, he said Norman is not a guy you can say no to, that he is tenacious and has a dream. People in this state have been able to live a greater quality life of life because of Norman’s dream and everyone’s efforts at Project Freedom. Congressman Smith said this has always been bipartisan, Jack Rafferty was always a believer in Project Freedom and talked about the first grant back in the mid-1980s for Project Freedom.
Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin said, “What you see to be able to get to this point today is a partnership between a lot of people and a lot of organizations. Today is not possible without support from our Federal, State, County and Local Governments. It takes that many organizations besides our non-profits, private organizations and the board of Project Freedom to provide a barrier free living facility and residences. We are here today to support a project like this and there are others throughout the State. On behalf of Hamilton, we welcome Project Freedom again to the town and we look forward to many years of continuing partnership.
County Executive Brian Hughes said, “Its an honor to be part of the Project Freedom family. We have been working with this great organization to try and get housing in the right place at the right time with the right idea in mind and in locations that really make sense and this location today cannot make more sense. Your across the street from the Library, the YMCA and the Police Department is a walk away.” “Mercer County is proud to be part of this organization.”
Norman Smith Executive Director of Project Freedom said, “Today is like a second homecoming for Project Freedom and for myself. I grew up in Hamilton, spend many hours in the library over there (across the way) with my Dad. In addition, my first position as an advocate for people with disabilities was in the Mayor’s Office on Disabilities that was also located in the library.
Similarly, Project Freedom was founded in Hamilton and supported by Hamilton legends Franny McManimon and the late Mayor Jack Rafferty. This was when people with disabilities were hardly thought about in the political calculus, but both Hamilton leaders supported us because they saw the problem and they saw Project Freedom as the proper solution. My friend Jack went on to be Project Freedom’s first guardian angel helping us in many ways that have brought us here today, said Norman Smith.
This past October marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of Project Freedom’s first Hamilton complex. Those 48 apartments have provided the foundation for tenants to be employed, have families, and enjoy the Hamilton community. One of the original tenants received an award from FEMA and was invited to the White House to receive it, Smith said.
Other Hamilton tenants have represented the United States as medal winners in the Paralympics and the Special Olympics. Still others achieved more personal goals of self-reliance and independence. This is the essence of what Project Freedom housing accomplishes. This is what I am most proud of. While others see apartment units as bricks and mortar, I see them as catalysts for lives being changed thought the opportunity and enjoyment of freedom. These 72 new apartments will do the same. What we start today will bring freedom to some, a comfortable sanctuary for others, and for everyone the opportunity to say Hamilton is a great place to call their hometown, said Smith.