By David Madden

GLASSBORO, NJ (CBS) — Demolition has begin on a portion of a crime-plagued public housing project in Gloucester County in hopes of erecting more than 80 new housing units for seniors and the disabled.

Longtime Ellis Manor resident Shelia Gresham sat in a front end loader to bring down the first of some 30 buildings where more than a hundred people like herself once lived.

img 2876 Part Of Public Housing Project In Gloucester County Is Coming Down, On Purpose

Gresham in the loader. (credit: David Madden)

It’s an area police know all too well, and one she’s glad is going to change from the ground up.

“To see people who want to make something better for the people, it was exciting,” Gresham told KYW Newsradio. “I was excited to do this because they’re fulfilling the promise they made to us that they want to build something that will help others.”

It’ll cost $1.6 million to tear down and remediate the land. State Senate President Steve Sweeney worked to ensure that all but $140,000 of that came from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

img 2866 Part Of Public Housing Project In Gloucester County Is Coming Down, On Purpose

Steve Sweeney (credit: David Madden)

“It’s nice when you can eliminate pockets of poverty and give people opportunities to live within the community,” Sweeney said.

A private developer has applied to build a new four-story structure providing low-income housing that will be welcomed by those like Glassboro City Councilwoman Anna Miller, who sits on the city’s Housing Authority.

“We look forward to breaking ground and putting up some new buildings and having new residents in the town of Glassboro,” Miller said.

Actual construction could begin this time next year, assuming the state approves the proper tax credits.

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