Life-changing new homes built for Mount Holly families

MT HOLLY, N..J. (WPVI) -- Elida Echevaria of Mount Holly, New Jersey wiped away tears as she stood in her brand new kitchen.

Elida and her son Luis have been living in Mount Holly Gardens for 21 years.

And their new home marks the first time each of them will have their own bedroom.

They are one of three families who moved into their new homes Wednesday. It was all because of a landmark lawsuit they filed against the township back in 2002.

Developers were looking to knock down the blighted Mount Holly Gardens they were living in to make way for new projects.

But residents argued that amounted to discrimination and they won three years ago.

On Wednesday, they cut the ribbon on the groundbreaking result.

Brand new homes built just for them.

"The historic settlement that was the successful culmination of many parties coming together with a solution that offered improved housing and overall quality of living for residents," Mount Holly Deputy Mayor Richard DiFolco said.

These homes are just the first of many as part of a bigger development project that includes 44 residences, 17 of them replacement homes for other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

"We needed to make it right for the residents that were remaining down here to have a new home in the neighborhood they wish to stay in and the neighborhood is going to turn around to be a positive effect in this town," Mount Holly Mayor Jason Jones said.

The families say they are just happy they got to stay in their neighborhood saying goodbye to the rundown homes and moving into brand new homes they say they've only dreamed of.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.