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Happy Birthday to Us!

Happy Birthday to Us!

Thirty-two years ago today a group of clergy and community leaders founded HANDS (Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, Inc.)  Today, we are going strong and taking on new challenges.  Let’s take a moment to celebrate!

For 32 years, HANDS has worked to make neighborhoods in the Oranges places where people can and do choose to raise their family and run their business.  What does this mean to us?  Thriving neighborhoods have attractive and safe streets, healthy buildings, green spaces, public art, good schools, plus a strong and supportive community.  There is affordable housing, diverse employment opportunities, and good transportation.  HANDS has achieved a lot, but we have much more to do!

The scope of our vision is why we work in a wide range of neighbor-driven activities, with affordable housing, creative placemaking, and social justice as our anchors.  Over the years, HANDS has developed about 190 deteriorated, pivotal properties into homes for more than 200 families and locally run businesses. In 2017, HANDS projects contributed almost $2million in property taxes just in the city of Orange.

None of HANDS’ achievements would be possible without our founders, staff, board, and friends.  Thank you for your support!  Please pat yourself on the back and do something celebratory.  Happy Birthday to all of us!!


Luther Flurry, Executive Director


She’s With Us! EC Freeholder President, Britnee Timberlake to MC our Community Leadership Awards Event

She’s With Us! EC Freeholder President, Britnee Timberlake to MC our Community Leadership Awards Event

HANDS is grateful that Essex County Freeholder President, Britnee Timberlake agreed to serve as this year’s Mistress of Ceremonies for our 18th Annual Community Leadership Awards.  This year, we will honor the dedicated resident groups receiving 2017 Neighborhood Project Grants (NPG).  The evening will include great food, entertainment, time for mingling, and a short program.  For tickets call 973-678-3110 x 8 or click/go to

We couldn’t ask for a better reprensentative for this community event then Freeholder President, Ms. Timberlake. She has made affordable homeownership assistance more attainable for citizens in need; created a Citizen Immigration Services committee to welcome those joining Essex County from other countries; innovated new methods to level the financial playing field for SBE, WBE, and MBEs; was successful advocating for the Sheriff’s department to obtain body cameras for officers; is holding banks accountable for giving back to the community by proving they are working with people to avoid foreclosure, supporting nonprofits, granting access to credit in communities of color, and maintaining abandoned homes owned by the banks, etc.

Ms. Timberlake is currently, the founding Executive Director of a nonprofit affordable housing organization called the Essex Community Land Trust (ECLT). The ECLT supports the creation of permanent high quality affordable housing throughout the diverse municipalities of Essex County, NJ. In this position, Britnee has been successful in leveraging over 1 million dollars to be used to build affordable housing in suburban communities for low- to moderate- income people.

HANDS and The HUUB Working on Neighborhood Project Grants

HANDS and The HUUB Working on Neighborhood Project Grants

HANDS and The HUUB Working Together for Neighborhood Project Grants Initiative:

Do you have an idea that will bring people together, get to know your neighbors better, and make meaningful change in your community? Apply for a Neighborhood Project Grant to help make it happen! Click here to download the application.  We are happy to answer any questions about the application! Sign up for Informational Grant Workshops For more info, click here. Informational grant workshops will be held Monday, October 16; Wednesday, October 25; and Tuesday, October 31 10am & 5pm each day, location: The HUUB at the First UU of Essex, 35 Cleveland St, Orange, NJ.

This round of grants will give special consideration to projects focused on making Orange’s streets safer!

Orange is full of talented people with exciting ideas about how to make the city a better place. We are supporting resident-led projects in the Heart of Orange neighborhood to build community, cultivate neighborhood leadership, expand activities for youth, promote wellness and health and to more generally celebrate the diversity of people living in this city.

We are accepting applications from resident groups for projects in the Heart of Orange neighborhood. Groups may be long-standing, newly established or in the process of forming, and are not required to have non-profit or 501(c)(3) status.

Submitting an application is easy: Describe a project to strengthen your community that can be carried out from July-November 2017 and provide a budget of up to $500.

We look for projects that: are clear and thoughtful; address important community concerns; contribute to building stronger communities through neighbors working together; and result in concrete and sustainable improvements.

Applications are accepted until November 6, 2017

Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis beginning November 15, 2017.

These grants are NOT for: individuals; for-profit projects; businesses; organizations with paid staff; religious, fraternal, and partisan organizations; projects affiliated with staffed organizations; groups that have received Neighborhood Project Grants in the last year. We also do not fund the following: rent, utilities, web hosting, web development, 501(c)(3) incorporation fees, salaries, speaker honorariums, and computer equipment.

Contact Charlie Wirene at 973-674-0010, ext. 1, or to ask a question or request an application.

The Heart of Orange is bound by Main St, Scotland Rd, Central Ave and Oakwood Ave.

HANDS Introduces the new Hat City, Get Ready!

HANDS Introduces the new Hat City, Get Ready!

Hat City Kitchen Begins Major Upgrades — After Major Renovation Party

July 30th from 3pm to 6pm, 459 Valley Street in Orange, New Jersey – An exciting partnership with a nationally-recognized celebrity chef and a well-established music impresario will bring changes to a Valley Arts District mainstay.  For more than 7 years, Hat City Kitchen (HCK) provided great food, music, and drink; developed a distinct brand; and grew a regional following.   We are excited to announce sweeping updates that will enhance and expand the service offerings and make HCK a favorite destination for years to come.

“This partnership will bring food and entertainment to a whole new level.” said Luther Flurry, Executive Director of HANDS.  “and reflects HANDS’ continued commitment to the Valley.”

Beginning next week (July 31) Hat City Kitchen will close for renovations — with a grand re-opening in early October.  HCK will upgrade the acoustics and lighting, redesign the dining room, and launch a new menu.  With these changes, HCK will offer a better and more memorable customer experience.

Please join us Sunday, July 30th from 3pm to 6pm, 459 Valley Street in Orange, New Jersey for our Renovation Launch Party, featuring a Pre-Renovation Jam session to celebrate 7 years of HCK, meet our critically acclaimed, “Best of” chef, and learn more about the new “Hat City“!

About Hat City Kitchen: Formerly Ricci’s in the Valley, HANDS restored this local landmark, continuing the tradition of good food and music. In 2010 Hat City Kitchen was rated “Best New Restaurant” by New Jersey Monthly Critic’s Choice which is great publicity for a restaurant whose profits go back into the Valley Arts District revitalization activities.

About HANDS: Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (HANDS) Inc. works to make Orange an inclusive city where people can and do choose to live and work.  HANDS amplifies resident voices, finds consensus around local challenges and opportunities, and executes community-based solutions.  We redevelop deteriorated vacant homes for affordable homeownership, adaptively reuse pivotal former industrial and commercial buildings as mixed use developments, empower resident action, and engage in creative placemaking.  HANDS is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1986 and is a chartered affiliate of NeighborWorks® America.  For more details, visit or email

National Night Out

National Night Out

This Tuesday, August 1st many communities and neighborhood block organizations will be coming together for National Night Out. Millions of neighbors will take part in events all around the country (and military bases worldwide) to celebrate the spirit of community camaraderie. There will be block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, caravans and other community events that will highlight police-community partnerships, discussions, public safety tips, demonstrations, youth events, and much more. In Orange, NJ, block party cookouts are so popular, that the community police officers, local officials, and council people hop around from block to block to engage in conversations and demonstrations that encourage community spirit with local police. 

At HANDS, we like to think of the police as Ambassadors of Peace in #OrangeNJ. They are there for you and your family/children when you can’t get to them. That’s why we’re highlighting moments from the past year that showcase the best of what our police do. Thank you for being there when we most need help, protection, and most importantly, community spirit.


HANDS and Corporate Partners Work Together to Grow Economic Development in Orange NJ

HANDS and Corporate Partners Work Together to Grow Economic Development in Orange NJ

HANDS is pleased to announce receipt of a $1.5 million grant award from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) Program which will support the Heart of Orange Job Training Center and the construction of the Valley Gateway Center. Both projects will work to strengthen neighborhood leadership, community organizing capacity, foster creative businesses, and local arts.  HANDS will develop a vacant, blighted site adjacent to the Highland Avenue NJ Transit commuter rail station with a new 2,800 square foot building to house a Business Incubator for “creative enterprises”. The building, in a park-type setting, will be the Gateway to the Valley Arts District. The grant also supports coaching and assistance to Orange entrepreneurs and supports nonprofits arts organizations in the Valley Arts District.  The new building will augment the Highland Avenue Station rehabilitation underway by the City of Orange.

HANDS will also rehabilitate a long-vacant and deteriorating commercial building, located in the Heart of Orange neighborhood, into a job training center for young adults learning construction trades. In conjunction with YouthBuild Newark, trainees will help rehabilitate the Center building as part of their training and once that is complete, help rehabilitate chronically vacant and deteriorated housing in the neighborhood. “This project is another example of HANDS helping community members plan, shape, and improve their own neighborhood.  It will raise the quality of community life and provide career and education alternatives to local youth.” says HANDS Executive Director, Luther Flurry.

Corporate contributors to these programs are JPMorgan Chase Bank, Valley National Bank and NJ PURE Insurance, Wyndham Worldwide, CURE Insurance, PSE&G, NJM Insurance Group and Solix, Inc.   “Without the vision and commitment of our Corporate Partners and the NRTC Program, these projects could not happen.” says Mr. Flurry.

About the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program:  The NRTC Program provides business entities with a 100% tax credit for funds provided to nonprofit entities carrying out comprehensive revitalization plans. Nonprofit entities may use funds for housing and economic development and supportive services that promote neighborhood revitalization.

Hat City Lofts is a 2016 Smart Growth Award Recipient

Hat City Lofts is a 2016 Smart Growth Award Recipient

Hat City Lofts is a 2016 Smart Growth Award Recipient.
On Thursday, June 9th, HANDS and partners were awarded a 2016 Smart Growth Award from New Jersey Future at a celebration held at the Panasonic Building in Newark. HANDS, along with project partners, Community Asset Preservation Corporation; Community Housing Capital; New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and New Jersey Community Capital were recognized for the transformation of the F. Berg Hat Factory (now known as Hat City Lofts) into affordable condominiums and commercial and artist space, anchoring the Valley Arts District.  The project is scheduled for completion this summer.

The Smart Growth Awards honors organizations and projects that help strengthen New Jersey’s economic, social and environmental future.   Click here (or below icon) to see the accompanying video with project highlights.