Bonita Holmes’ family moved to Newark over 70 years ago, at a time when it was considered a great suburban community for New Jersey families. Growing up, she lived through the Newark riots, watching as their beautiful community was destroyed, and life as she knew it changed forever. Unfortunately, rioting led to an explosion in crime, which accelerated “white flight” as many wealthier Newark residents left the city. This trend continued as Newark’s population got poorer and more in need of services. In recent years, however, Newark is rebuilding, with developments and plans to once again attract residents and businesses to the city.
Bonita attended a private high school and went on to attend New Jersey City University, majoring in Marketing. Both her parents worked for Western Electric, now AT&T, where her mother was a Benefits Specialist and her father was a tester and one of the heads of the IBEW union.
As the Director of a statewide HUD-Certified housing counseling program in one of the most densely populated, diverse, and most segregated states in the country for the last 17 years, Bonita brings more than 38 years of professional experience as an advocate and nonprofit service provider who understands the unique needs of New Jersey’s low- and moderate-income families, including renters, homebuyers, and homeowners, in addition to her own personal experiences having been born and raised in Newark, NJ. Prior to joining NJCA in 2004, she worked for Catholic Community Services for over 23 years in Program Management, Business Development and Accounting.
Bonita led NJCA’s housing counseling & loss mitigation program in the wake of the Great Recession. Under her leadership, NJCA connected distressed homeowners to more than $45 million in foreclosure prevention assistance, including the state’s Hardest Hit Funds, as well as foreclosure prevention programs developed in partnership with financial institutions and loan servicers. Today, NJCA once again partners with the New Jersey Housing Mortgage & Finance Agency to counsel homeowners impacted by COVID-19 as part of New Jersey’s Homeowner Assistance Fund.
When not working, Bonita can be found spending time with her nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews, participating in her block association where she serves as Vice President or watching her favor shows, Law & Order and The Equalizer.