Our Mission

BCHT's mission is to provide safe, quality housing in Trenton that local low-income people can afford to buy or rent and to support community action and development in at-risk urban neighborhoods.


November 2017    May 2017   December 2016    July 2016    December 2015    September 2015    December 2014    September 2014    May-June 2014   August 2018 December 2018


Youth Receives Eagle Scout Award With Help from BCHT and PACF

Amir Black, the son of a BCHT homeowner, received his Eagle Scout award in May for his Beautify Wilbur project. For Beautify Wilbur, Amir organized his fellow Boy Scouts to help twelve families paint their front doors and add plants and flowers to their porch or yard. Amir is shown here with one of his mentors, NJ Councilwoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson, who was on the Trenton City Council at the time.

We thank Amir and his fellow Boy Scouts for helping bring hope and inspiration to the twelve families and their neighbors in an area where many homes are derelict or abandoned. Amir and BCHT would like to thank Amir’s mentors and the Zvilin Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF) for helping make this possible. Congratulations, Amir!

BCHT Advisory Board Members at CYO Summer Camp

 BCHT Advisory Board members, volunteering through the Social Concerns Committee of St. David the King Catholic Community, worked for the sixth summer with the E. State Street CYO (formerly the Martin House Learning Center), offering enrichment activities to the campers on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Activities include Yoga, Mindfulness, music awareness and making musical instruments, planting seeds and keeping track of how they grow, and filling "buckets" with good deeds. Over 100 campers and 30 volunteers participated.


Corporate Sponsors  Help  Us Fulfill Our Mission - A Beautiful Home!

As of December 2017, the rehab on our latest project in Trenton, NJ is nearly complete. This was made possible by a $20,000 grant provided by Santander and a $4,000 grant from the Church & Dwight Employee Giving Fund, as well as from "viewers like you."  The house has three bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, and a full basement. Five families are currently part of the BCHT Housing Program and are in line to receive this or a future home that we rehab. Being part of the program means they must attend community meetings and do sweat equity by working on this house, doing community projects, or working in our office. The house will be ready for the new family on May 1, 2018. Thank you, Santander, Church & Dwight, and all our individual sponsors!


Kitchen in Rehabbed Home



BCHT Mentors and Supports Eagle Scout Project

Beautify Wilbur

In the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017, Amir Black, a Boy Scout in CYO Troop 257, organized his Eagle Scout project, Beautify Wilbur. The project was designed to enhance the curb appeal (and value) of homes in a neighborhood where many properties were blighted by vacancy and neglect. Amir told homeowners they would receive up to $100 worth of materials from Better Community Housing of Trenton, Inc. (BCHT) to paint their front door and/or landscape their front yard, with the help of the Boy Scouts. Isles Urban Agriculture generously provided some of the plants, and discounts from Home Depot in Ewing increased our spending power.

BCHT obtained funding for the project through a grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation.  In total, 12 houses were beautified, including one vacant townhouse in one of the groups being worked on. The pictures below tell the story. Thank you PACF, Isles, Home Depot, and those who did the work – Boy Scouts and Neighbors!



Father Brian McCormick, Martin House and BCHT Founder, Celebrates 50th Jubilee as a Priest

June 12, 2016 was a day of celebration for Fr. Brian McCormick and his family, friends, and so many people whose lives have been directly affected by his life and teachings in his chosen role as a priest.  Fr. Brian celebrated 50 years as a priest with a Jubilee celebration that included Mass at St. James the Less Church in Jamesburg, where he was a weekend helper during his 40+ years in Trenton, and a dinner at Pierre’s Restaurant of South Brunswick.

In 1970 the young Fr. Brian was assigned by Bishop Ahr to an experimental ministry in Trenton called Martin House, where he worked for 42 years. Fr. Brian’s ministry addressed poverty and racism. He served “hands on,” living among the very poor in a crime ridden area of Trenton.  Fr. Brian and his work are evidence that one person, with God’s grace, really can make a difference.

Under his direction, Martin House developed into a multi-faceted organization that worked to promote family living and values through low-income housing (Better Community Housing of Trenton, Inc. has built or rehabbed 167 houses for the very poor); emergency housing for homeless families (Doorway to Hope, Inc. has 17 family units); and education (Martin House Learning Center, now CYO East State Street Center, provides after-school and summer programs, sports, and a safe center for community gatherings).   

The 230 people who attended the Jubilee paid tribute to Fr. Brian and his works with speeches, a Papal Blessing signed by Pope Francis, and gifts, including a trip to Rome and Assisi in September. 

Lesley Lutkowski, a founding member of the Board of the Martin House Foundation, summed up the feelings of many by saying:

Father Brian achieved the impossible. I know of no other individual who has single-handedly accomplished what this man has. I watch the daily news, read articles about people getting awards, but none have accomplished as much as Father Brian and given so much to those less fortunate. It was his energy, his determination, his willingness to roll up his sleeves, but most importantly, it was his purity in faith. He believed in what he was doing.  [But I] want to also talk about what Father Brian gave to those of us who live beyond the inner city of Trenton.

Fr. Brian has taught us all the real meaning of giving – the gift of love, and most importantly, the gift of Faith. We are all so fortunate to have known Father Brian. He has taught us the true scriptures of everyday life and in my opinion, we are all benefactors of his love and faith. [Fr. Brian is like] Mother Teresa, who lived amongst the poor and held the dying when no one else would. That is how I view Father Brian and that is what my knowing him has taught me. When someone shows us the way as explicitly and selflessly as Father Brian has done, we learn that helping others is the greatest gift of life.

So my message to you, Father Brian, is, while you were administering to the poor, you were administering to us as well. We also were lifted up by you. We also renewed our own faith in our Lord and Savior. We saw first-hand what caring for others could really mean and feel like. That is your gift to us. You have touched so many more lives than you could ever have imagined and for that we will forever be so thankful.

In his “retirement” Fr. Brian continues to act as a volunteer advisor to both Better Community Housing and Doorway to Hope.


Bi-Monthly Community Meetings Spur Positive Action

 BCHT homeowners and other Wilbur area residents meet every other month to plan programs and events geared toward making Trenton a better place to live and work. They can design their own projects or join worthwhile projects initiated by other organizations. Projects include:

  • Resurrection Egg Hunt at Greg Grant Park - Saturday March 26, 2016

  • National Night Out at Greg Grant Park - Tuesday August 2, 2016

  • Summer movie nights at the park, enabled by Princeton Area Community foundation and Greg Grant

  • Neighborhood cleanups

  • Garden projects that beautify the area

Santander Grant for Rehabbing Homes

Last fall, Santander Bank, NA awarded BCHT a grant to help rehab two homes in our Wilbur area during 2016.  This is part of our ongoing work to bring quality housing to low-income families in Trenton.  Qualified applicants are put on a list to purchase a home as it becomes available. Applicants must do sweat equity work on homes and take classes on finances and home ownership.  Thank you, Santander, for helping us continue this important work.



BCHT Homes Receive 2015 Phoenix Award

BCHT’s 20 homes on East State Street, along with Greg Grant Park, were the reason the city of Trenton was given the 2015 Phoenix Award. The homes and park are on three former industrial sites that were contaminated with toxic products. The award recognizes exemplary brownfield redevelopment and revitalization. Project Partners for this effort included:  Architects Michael Graves and THINKFORM’s Russell DiNardo, Better Community Housing of Trenton, Inc. (formerly Martin House); USEPA (Region 2); NJ Department of Community Affairs; NJDEP; Mercer County; Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions, Inc.; and members of the East Trenton Collaborative.    

BCHT Homes As Seen From Greg Grant Park

BCHT Homes As Seen From Greg Grant Park


What's Happening in 2015 at Better Community Housing, Doorway to Hope, and the Thrift Store

Wondering what direction we are taking now that Fr. Brian has retired? Click below to watch this informative video featuring Pearleen Waters of BCHT, Barbara Thompson of Doorway to Hope, and Vera Wertz of the Thrift Store.

Video produced by Sam Russell.  Some photos provided by Robert Salgado and others.


2015 National Night Out Promotes Police/Neighborhood Camaraderie

Making Neighborhoods a Safer, Better Place to Live

The weather was perfect on August 4, 2015 for the third National Night Out at Greg Grant Park.  Hundreds turned out to enjoy a variety of games, food, and activities. In the spirit of community, the event was jointly organized by Better Community Housing of Trenton, Inc. (BCHT), the Fr. Brian McCormick Homeowners Association, and the Congregation Masjidut-Taqua.  The CYO East State Street Center and the Wilbur Branch of Santander Bank also contributed. The city provided T-shirts, food, police and fire presence, and street barricades. Greg Grant set up an exciting exhibition basketball game featuring local teams. The East State Street sponsors organized the event, including games, special food, a water slide and bounce house, much of which was made possible through a grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation.




PACF Supports Community Action and Events

Movies at the Park

The summer of 2015 saw kids and their families enjoying movies at Greg Grant Park.  The city of Trenton held Movies Under the Stars at several parks, and BCHT sponsored four movie nights thanks to a grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation, which allowed us to purchase a projector and sound system, as well as snacks.  Thank you PACF and Greg Grant for your support!

The picture shows some young movie goers rushing up to get a closer look at the screen.


Moms Healing Brunch Remembers Children Lost to Violence

Seeaflia Ellis sees the pain of her friends and neighbors who have suffered the unthinkable – losing a child to the violence that surrounds them in the city. With the help of BCHT using funds from PACF, Seeaflia organized a Healing Brunch for eight of these mothers and their families who have lost a child over the years. On a beautiful day in May, they were treated to a sumptuous buffet at the park on Walnut Ave. Blessings were asked, and mothers who felt so inclined told their stories. These moms and elder moms of the neighborhood were awarded memory plaques and flowers.


Doorway to Hope Helps Ex-Prisoners and Their Families

Our sister program, Doorway to Hope (DTH) is branching out to aid those re-entering society after being released from prison.  Barbara Thompson and team, Michael Howard, Howard Thompson, and Cynthis Eutsey, are working to include ex-prisoners with families in DTH’s mission of “homelessness to self-sufficiency” by providing short-term housing and assistance in finding jobs.

Bi-Monthly Community Meetings Spur Positive Action

 BCHT homeowners and other Wilbur area residents meet every other month to plan programs and events geared toward making Trenton a better place to live and work. They can design their own projects or join worthwhile project initiated by other organizations. Projects include:

  • Resurrection Egg Hunt at Greg Grant Park

  • National Night Out at Greg Grant Park

  • Summer movie nights at the park, enabled by Princeton Area Community foundation and Greg Grant

  • Neighborhood cleanups

  • Garden projects that beautify the area

Garden Projects

The Isles Urban Gardens Program has enabled BCHT to complete several garden project.  So far BCHT has landscaped the area in front of our office, which was just a mass of weeds and dead bushes, as well as the yard of a BCHT home and neighborhood street areas .  Because BCHT is a member, Isles supplies plants and gardening tools. Thanks go to urban garden planners Jim Simon and Brandon Ritter of Isles, as well as Isles and BCHT volunteers pictured here: Doug, Annie, Faheema (of Masjidut-El Taqua), Cathy, and Linda.



 2nd Annual National Night Out at Greg Grant Park

BCHT and the Homeowners' Association of the Brian McCormick Court homes organized the East State Street edition of National Night Out on August 5, 2014.  With over 300 people attending, it was the largest event in the city.  Thank you to all who worked to make this happen and to all who joined us for food and fun.

GG FrB Grp.jpg





See "Gallery" Page for more 2014 Night Out