(Jersey City, NJ) On Mon., Nov. 14 at 11 a.m., Jersey City will honor U.S. Congresswoman Mary T. Norton at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Mary T. Norton Manor condominiums, 23-25 Duncan Ave, Jersey City. A workforce housing complex for working families in Jersey City, the Mary Norton Manor condominiums is an initiative brought forth by the Jersey City Redevelopment Authority (JCRA) and the City of Jersey City that enables working families to own their own homes at affordable mortgage rates thereby enriching Jersey City’s quality-of-life with residents who work and live in the community.
Guest speakers at the ceremony will include the Honorable Peter M. Brennan, Jersey City Municipal Council President, State Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Paul R. DeBellis, Sr., Principal of the Franklin Development Group, which built the condominiums. The featured speaker will be Barbara Griffin, Dean of St. Dominic’s Academy in Jersey City. A Mary Norton scholar, Griffin will talk about the congresswoman’s contribution to the people of Jersey City and her tireless efforts to have the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act passed in the U.S. Legislature in 1938 — and which is still in effect today. Norton’s efforts ensured a minimum hourly wage, the 40-hour work week; and strict standards for child labor.
“I am honored to speak on behalf of Mary T. Norton,” Griffin said. “She has been a hero to me and the work she did on behalf of the American people has so often gone unnoticed. It’s a wonderful tribute to Marty T. Norton to name these homes in her honor.”
Also attending are Anthony Marchetto, Executive Director of the NJHMFA, the Honorable David Donnelly, Ward “B” Councilman, Jersey City; and Robert P. Antonicello, Executive Director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.
Mary Teresa Hopkins (1875-1959) was born in Jersey City, the daughter of Irish immigrants. She attended Packard Business College in New York and in 1909, married Robert Francis Norton. After the death of her infant son, Mary Norton turned to community service and in 1912 founded a daycare center in Jersey City. She tossed her hat into the political ring in 1925 and became the first woman east of the Mississippi elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she served 13 terms until her retirement in 1951. She wrote and helped pass legislation for funding for daycare centers and equal pay for women, but it was the passing of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 regulating minimum wage, the maximum work week and child labor that would become Mary Norton’s greatest triumph.
“Many years ago I worked in welfare in my city. I never dreamed the day would come to have the privilege to appeal to you,” Mary Norton told Congress during one of her appeals to pass the Bill. “If you could see what I saw; if you could see the misery. What we are attempting to do is human. A country that will not heed the cry of the masses of the underprivileged will perish…”
The Mary Norton Manor is a 24-unit, residential workforce housing project and the third of five to be constructed in Jersey City. The JCRA in its ongoing advocacy of “green,” sustainable, energy efficient projects has worked closely with the Franklin Development Group to ensure that the building was built to L.E.E.D “silver” rating standards. It is the third of four new housing developments that are beautifully constructed and mortgage-affordable for working families through the State of New Jersey Mortgage and Finance Agency’s CHOICE program. Through the Workforce Housing Development Program, the JCRA offers working families the opportunity to live in the community they work and wards off the projected loss of workforce income and community contributions this vital population provides to Jersey City.
“On behalf of the Jersey City Redevelopment Authority, I am proud to see our third workforce housing project named for Mary Norton,” Executive Director Robert P. Antonicello says. “Mary Norton fought for working families to have a better quality-of-life and here, in her hometown of Jersey City, we are carrying out her legacy.”