The city has spent $170,813 in overtime and material expenses rehabilitating the Montgomery Street church property for a reentry program, according to municipal records.
The city spent $36,331 in overtime expenses to pay the public works employees who worked at the site.
It also incurred $31,500 on masonry, $31,114 on carpentry, $16,700 on flooring, $16,656 on plumbing, $8,820 on fence, $7,389 on electrical, $5,870 on lumber, $5,600 on architect, and $4,943 on painting expenses, according to city records.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration has repeatedly said the city will be reimbursed the cost incurred through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). $180,000 in CDBG money was set aside for the reentry program which will serve 175 to 250 ex-inmates coming out of Passaic County Jail in a given year, according to former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey.
Called the Center of Hope, the reentry program is modeled after the Martin’s Place program in Jersey City, which is run by the former governor.
The program has been criticized by neighborhood residents. Many have said they fear the program will further destabilize their already volatile neighborhood by bringing ex-offenders to the area who may re-offend.
The program is being run out of a converted two-story apartment building located at 147 Montgomery Street. The property is owned by Grace Gospel Church of Paterson.
McGreevey has said his program has been successful in rehabilitating ex-offenders in Jersey City where the recidivism rate is 22-percent for those who go through Martin’s Place.
Council president William McKoy said the amount of money spent seems like a lot; however, he noted it appears the city has stayed within its budget for the program. He said the administration has told council members the money spent on the program will be reimbursed through the CDBG grant.
The program quietly began to serve ex-inmates in late February.
“It’s a sorely needed service,” said McKoy.
The council president said he is hoping the program will have a positive impact in the community by providing inmates coming out of jail the needed services to assist them to return to being productive members of society.