Baraka announces strategic plan to end chronic homelessness in Newark

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NEWARK, NJ — On Dec. 21, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced at the Newark YMCA the city’s strategic plan to end chronic homelessness, titled “The Path Home: Collaborating Across Our Community,” which can be read online at Barak was joined by Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, Essex County Board of County Commissioners President Wayne L. Richardson, Newark Commission on Homelessness Chairperson Jim Pelliccio, Newark Homelessness Czar Luis Ulerio, Newark Alliance President and CEO Evan Weiss, Newark Municipal Council members, Newark resident and advocate Teresa Pringle, and other dignitaries.

This comprehensive, data-driven plan was developed as part of a collaborative planning process involving more than 100 partners from public, private, business and nonprofit sectors, and including committed individual residents. It seeks to establish a cooperative structure to address the multiple needs of residents without addresses, such as temporary and permanent housing, employment, medical and behavioral health care, and support services. The plan aims to end chronic homelessness in Newark over the next three years, through collaboration, prevention and housing, and eliminating systemic barriers to delivering services during difficult circumstances.

“My administration has continued to invest in solutions, including opening the historic Newark Hope Village, the innovative program using converted containers to shelter residents who are at-risk or without addresses,” Baraka said. “We also renovated the former Miller Street Elementary School building to now provide shelter and support services to residents without addresses, seeking a more stable life. I believe wholeheartedly that homelessness is a moral issue that demands our greatest efforts to achieve a solution. We need to provide our most vulnerable residents with decent homes and the tools they need to regain control of their lives. This plan does just that. Together, by lifting up those most in need – our residents without addresses – we can lift up our entire community.”

In January 2022, there were 1,914 residents without addresses in Essex County. Of that, 1,695 were in Newark and 134 were unsheltered.

“The Murphy administration stands alongside the city of Newark in its efforts to end chronic homelessness, which takes an immense toll on people who are affected by the stress of not having stable housing,” said Oliver, who also serves as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. “The DCA administers several innovative homelessness prevention programs, such as the Eviction Diversion Initiative, Homeless Diversion Initiative and housing choice vouchers, which are making a difference in communities like Newark. We look forward to strengthening these programs and creating new ones to help provide individuals and families in need with safe and decent housing and a better quality of life.”

“Homelessness is a chronic problem across the United States. With the implementation of this strategic plan, Newark will again be a shining example to the rest of the country that with the cooperation of government, community, and the private and public sectors, no problem is insurmountable,” Richardson said. “Every person should have a roof over their head.”

The plan has three priorities:

  • To better address street homelessness by working with consultants to get real-time data about who comes into support facilities, when and where. These will include enhanced street outreach efforts; multiple entry points to shelter and services; coordination with mobile behavior health services to reach street homeless; and strengthening health care partnerships.
  • To improve access and services throughout the shelter system to address the complete range of needs for these persons, from temporary shelter to health care to job training and employment. These will include integrating coordinated entry into emergency shelters; improving access to behavioral health services in shelters; and developing more flexible space options in shelters.
  • To expand prevention and housing services, which will include developing a public and private funding plan to expand housing and services; creating the Landlord Task Force; securing additional rental subsidy vouchers; supporting creative housing solutions; and expanding the number of permanent supportive housing units.

“This plan will marshal the considerable resources of this commission, our community partners, the private sector, elected officials, and state and government agencies,” Pelliccio said. “We will focus this effort on more effectively addressing chronic homelessness, improving access and services throughout the system, collectively investing in prevention and housing.”

“Newark refuses to be a city that accepts that some residents will inevitably experience prolonged homelessness. We know that there are best practices that work to bring people off the streets and into long-term housing, but the city cannot implement solutions in isolation,” Ulerio said. “Lasting progress requires our community to act collaboratively to make systemwide reform, and we are doing that.”

Photos Courtesy of City of Newark