NEWARK, NJ — On May 12, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced the projects that will be built under Affordable Newark, a $20 million housing initiative targeted to Newark families earning a yearly income of $32,000 or less, which is 30 percent of the area median income for a family of four, in a press conference at 2-18 Stratford Place. These buildings are now in the process of renovation to quality affordable housing. At the event, the mayor said that more than one-third of the Affordable Newark housing will be created by minority and women developers and co-developers.
Affordable Newark is designed to create and preserve affordable housing. According to a press release from the city, this initiative is particularly important at a time when corporate investors have been buying owner-occupied Newark homes and converting them to market-rate rentals. Baraka was joined by David D. Troutt, author of “Who Owns Newark,” the recently released Rutgers University report documenting the extreme extent of corporate purchase of Newark homes, and “Homes Beyond Reach,” the research report that documented the need for programs such as Affordable Newark targeted to families earning $32,000 or less per year.
“Last year, we set forth very ambitious five-year housing goals prioritizing housing in all five wards that the average Newark resident can afford,” Baraka said. “Fifty-nine percent of all Newark renters are cost-burdened, spending more than a third of their incomes for housing. Much of the housing defined as affordable under federal housing programs is not affordable by the people of Newark. The Affordable Newark program is one way for us to help fill this gap.”
Among the developments are renovation of an existing vacant apartment complex containing two mid-rise buildings on Stratford Place in the South Ward; permanent housing on 3rd Avenue in the East Ward for homeless veterans; two mid-rise apartment buildings on vacant lots on South 15th and South 16th streets in the West Ward; a package of three mid-rise buildings in the North and West wards; construction of affordable housing for seniors on Thomas Street in the East Ward; and an upcoming 10-story mixed-income residential development on the corner of Halsey Street and Central Avenue in the Central Ward. To further ensure equity across these projects, preference was given to minority and women-owned developers or co-developers, and small-scale developments of 30 or fewer units.
“Mayor Baraka has made equitable growth and truly affordable housing a major priority of the city of Newark,” Troutt said. “He created the Equitable Growth Commission and worked with us to create Affordable Newark, a stronger Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, better rent control enforcement and a rubric to ensure that all city departments are focused on making Newark a more equitable city.”
Affordable Newark is being financed by the American Rescue Plan Act federal and local housing trust fund dollars.