Baraka established 5-year goals to create, preserve affordable housing

NEWARK, NJ — As part of Newark’s Equitable Recovery Summer, Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced on Aug. 9 a set of affordable housing goals to guide the city’s housing and development efforts over the next five years — including the allocation of American Recovery Plan funding.

He made the announcement of Newark’s five-year affordable housing goals in front of 550-552 S. 18th St., a six-family affordable housing building built by developer Eugenia Hamlett. In addition to Hamlett, Baraka was joined by Allison Ladd, deputy mayor and director of economic and housing development; David Troutt, director of the Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity; Victor Cirilo, executive director of the Newark Housing Authority; and Elizabeth Fuller, a tenant of 550-552 S. 18th St.

“An equitable city is built on the foundation of affordability,” Baraka said. “Our new housing goals and the actions outlined to achieve them will help us ensure all Newark residents have access to safe, decent and affordable housing, and that our city continues to be a vibrant gateway to opportunity for all, regardless of income, race, ethnicity or immigration status.”

Newark’s goals represent a significant increase in the number of affordable units created and preserved in the city as well as in the number of residents served by city-funded homeless, tenant and homeowner assistance programs. Between 2015 and 2020, the city created or preserved 3,514 homes. The five-year goals continue the city’s focus on production, preservation and protection, calling for the city to:

  • Fund the creation or preservation of 6,600 affordable homes, prioritizing units affordable to Newarkers making less than 30 percent area median income, or AMI.
  • Support 1,500 new and 200 existing low- and moderate-income homeowners.
  • Convey all of the vacant properties currently held by the city or Land Bank, which are suitable for residential development and not currently under residential development agreements, with at least 30 percent of the units developed on these sites affordable to residents making at or below 80 percent AMI.
  • Support 10,000 vulnerable or unsheltered households annually.
  • Add 3,000 new housing units — market rate and affordable — across all five wards, ready for residents to move in.

The goals were developed through a housing working group convened by the mayor with more than 30 representatives from community-based organizations, nonprofit agencies, developers, housing advocates, private companies, municipal departments, the Newark Housing Authority and Invest Newark. The working group, led by the Office of Affordable and Sustainable Housing with support from Bloomberg Associates, worked over the past eight months to review the city’s past housing efforts, understand current programs and create quantitative housing affordability targets to meet the vision of Newark Forward.

The working group’s efforts were guided by “Homes Beyond Reach: An Assessment and Gap Analysis of Newark’s Affordable Rental Stock,” a report released in February by the Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity and co-authored by working group member David Troutt, which detailed the affordability gaps in Newark’s rental stock, as well as input and recommendations from the city’s Equitable Growth Commission.

“I want to thank the housing working group for creating bold but achievable goals. Their work sets a clear direction for Newark and will shape our collective housing efforts as we recover from the pandemic and reinvest in our communities,” Ladd said. “The housing goals provide a roadmap to ensure we maximize funding from the American Rescue Plan, Treasury Emergency Rental Funds and American Jobs Act, as well as state and local sources, to meet the needs of Newark’s most vulnerable residents.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with the city on this bold planning initiative,” Cirilo said. “The housing authority has pledged its development capacity to assure that Mayor Baraka’s and the city of Newark’s affordable housing creation and preservation goals are met.”