Neighborhood Preservation

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18th Annual Community Leadership Awards Call for Nominations

18th Annual Community Leadership Awards Call for Nominations

This fall, HANDS will celebrate creativity in all forms – the fuel driving Orange’s economic engine.  Join us for the 18th Annual Community Leadership Awards: Building Together.

HANDS is a unique neighborhood change organization that combines strategic redevelopment of deteriorated properties with comprehensive planning, advocacy, leadership development and community building. Our innovative methods yield impactful results. Collaboration is an essential ingredient to much of that success.

This year, our annual community leadership event will celebrate “Building Together” thinking, creativity and our community partners.

A Call for Nominations, HANDS Community Leadership Awards— HANDS is looking to honor community activists, community builders, entrepreneurs and innovators. If you know someone who would be perfect to receive and award, please take the time to complete the nomination form, Click Here. Thank you for your time!

The Community Leadership Awards: Building Together will be a festive evening to recognize the honorees, showcase local talent and a networking opportunity for area businesses to witness the great happenings in Orange, New Jersey. Attendees will include community leaders, government officials, business owners, the creative community in and around Orange and local residents interested in seeing a bright future for their community. Ticket prices range from $60 to $160 and sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Christine Jackson for more information at 973-678-3110 Ext. 8 or


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.


Neighborhood Preservation

Neighborhood Preservation

The 7 Core Elements of HANDS’ Strategy
• Redevelopment of pivotal properties in target neighborhoods.
• Increasing home ownership: Investing in first time homebuyers.
• Strengthening neighborhood organizations.
• Developing leadership.
• Increasing effective citizen engagement.
• Forging strategic partnerships.
• Shaping public policy and private sector initiatives.


Upward Momentum is the Key
The neighborhood of Orange and its urban neighbors cycled downward during the 1970s and into the 1990s. Properties were deteriorating, vacant and abandoned. Reversing that downward slide and creating upward momentum required attracting investment and generating hope.

HANDS reasoned that if we could redevelop enough of the “pivotal” eyesore properties, and engage residents and public officials in a campaign to rid neighborhoods of vacant and trouble properties, then momentum would shift and investment would follow.

This work relied on an annual, house by house, block by block survey – creating a List of vacant and deteriorated houses with ownership information, taxes owed and other liens against the property. HANDS successfully cleared title to the worst properties and rehabilitated them for sale to first time buyers. The List was used by community leaders and City Hall to get other properties restored or demolished.

This approach successfully stabilized several neighborhoods, though the recent foreclosure crisis and economic downturn has threatened that successful work.

Neighborhood Anchors Fund

Neighborhood Anchors Fund

The Neighborhood Anchors Fund is an $11+ million source of long-term low-cost, blended financing that will be managed by NJ Community Capital. Structured as a ‘blended capital social investment fund, it can attract a variety of capital providers motivated by both financial and social returns.

It’s four layers of capital each have a different purpose and profile: government agencies who issue long-term senior debt in the form of tax-exempt bonds; subordinated debt in the form of program related investments (PRI) from philanthropic foundations; low cost debt by individual impact investors; and a reserve fund, made up of gifts and grants from charitably-motivated individuals and institutions. Together they provide an affordable, longer term, blended cost of capital of 4.6% that will be used to support high-impact community/economic development in Orange.

Ultimately, the Fund is part of a larger plan to accelerate the catalytic development that will fuel Orange’s renaissance by creating permanent, affordable spaces for 100+ innovators, community builders, and entrepreneurs creating jobs and improving the quality of life; leveraging an additional $250 million in Orange; and serving as a model of community and economic development for other urban communities in New Jersey and across the country.

For more information about The NAF or HANDS please contact us: