Four weeks after federal investigator raided city offices in connection with the rehabilitation of a church property using federal funds to run a prisoner reentry program, the program is moving out of the building from the Rigley Park neighborhood to downtown Paterson, announced former Governor James McGreevey.
McGreevey said the New Jersey Reentry Corporation is vacating 147 Montgomery Street, where Paterson used $180,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to rehabilitate the privately owned church property to make way for the program, within the next month and moving the Center of Hope to 52 Church Street by January, according to news reports.
The Church Street building is twice the size of the current location. The program which opened in late February with little fanfare after neighborhood opposition was looking to move to a bigger location to accommodate more former prisoners, but the move came sooner as a result of the FBI investigation.
Paterson program helped 350 ex-prisoners since it opened. It secured employment for 67-percent of former prisoners and had a recidivism rate of 9-percent, according to McGreevey. His nonprofit reentry corporation leases space from the Grace Gospel Church which owns the building.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres used city workers in late last year to handle renovation at the building after it was deemed too expensive to contract out the work.
The ex-governor noted the reentry program “received no monies from Paterson” and the FBI investigation is “unrelated” to his program. FBI investigators seized documents related to the rehabilitation work done at the property using federal money in their raid of the Community Development Department on November 3, 2016.