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Newark Takes Initiative in Housing Homeless Residents

by Natalie Tsur
newark housing homeless

Newark, NJ has moved forward with five partners to construct 100 units of housing including additional services for homeless residents, which is in accordance with their $2 million finance commitment. 

The city’s project, “Making Housing Homes: A Housing First Initiative,” comes after Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the Municipal Council reestablished the Homelessness Commission in 2018. The administration has dismissed temporary solutions for a more steady and long-term response to the crisis.

“It has long been my vision to provide our residents without addresses with decent, livable, and supportive housing, so that they can gain personal independence,” said Baraka on Feb. 5. “These partnerships will help create new opportunities for service providers, and both small and large developers, to collaborate and provide critical, transitional, and permanent supportive housing for our most vulnerable.”

According to the City of Newark’s website, 2020 data revealed that there are about 1,829 homeless adult residents in the city. Of that figure alone, 86 percent are housed in 28 shelters funded by Essex County. Newark has added more funding toward the 25 percent who don’t qualify for county aid, those who are considered the most vulnerable and chronically homeless. 

The same data reports that the city has historically addressed the issue, and with great success. Through (DHWC) emergency shelter grants, Newark effectively prevented 2,646 residents from becoming homeless. Their most recent efforts in 2019 included a $3.3 million spending budget toward sheltering vulnerable residents. 

Though these strides have made impressive progress in challenging the homelessness crisis, Baraka demands more to be done, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. 

When announcing the program in November, City of Newark Homelessness Czar Sakinah Hoyte said in a statement, “The affordable housing shortage in our country is a crisis, and as we are in the midst of this global pandemic, we continue to plan for the looming increase in homelessness. The Mayor’s commitment to addressing both the affordable housing and homelessness crisis is evident in this call to partnerships with developers to build housing specifically for the homeless community. This is yet another example of Newark leading.”

The project prides itself on extending admission to all people, free of barriers such as sobriety, treatment or service participation. The supportive services are intended to maximize housing stability, and the five selected developers prioritize diversity in their programs. Of the 14 proposals that Newark received, they extended partnerships to:

  • Monarch Housing Associates / Bridges Outreach, Inc.
  • Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation / North Jersey Community Research Initiative (NJCRI)
  • ETTA Investments LLC / Soldier ON, Urban Agriculture Cooperative, Greater Newark Conservancy, CareSparc Consulting Inc., and The Mental Health Association in New Jersey
  • Domus Corporation / Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark
  • 10th and 11th Street Homes LLC / AIDS Resource Foundation for Children (ARFC)

These developers claim to focus on serving veterans, those with special needs and groups within the LGBTQ+ community. The city of Newark said this decision was based on each partner’s technical ability, supportive services model and financial capacity. Upon confirming this, Newark asserted development is to be completed within 18 months of the award notice.

During a Zoom conference in January, Hoyte had announced using converted shipping containers as a means of housing homeless residents within the Newark Penn Station area throughout the winter months. However, there has yet to be further information from city officials about this mode.

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