Fixing Newark's neighborhoods a long-term initiative, report says


By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for 

NEWARK — Residents' opinions on the progress of Mayor Ras Baraka's initiative to turn around some of the city's most crime-ridden areas is mixed, according to an NPR 'For the Record' report.

Last Fall, Baraka rolled out the Model Neighborhood initiative, which targeted the Clinton Hill and Lower West Ward neighborhoods. The plan, he said then, was to increase the number of police officers and code enforcers in the area to decrease crime and poverty.

According to NPR, the city has spent millions of dollars over the past six months in the 58-blocks that make up the two neighborhoods. The city has built new houses, planted trees, and leaned on businesses to keep up to code, the report said.

Some residents told NPR that they have seen considerable change in the neighborhoods, and believe the plan is working. Others said they were not aware of the initiative, and haven't noticed any differences.

"We are talking about families and residents who have been dealing with some really traumatic situations for a pretty significant period of time. Six months of city hall investment is not going to undo that," said Monique Baptiste-Good, a Clinton Hill resident and director of the Strong, Healthy Communities Initiative.

Though she said she supported the program, Baptiste-Good argued that it needs to be the beginning of a continued effort. Before there can be real progress, residents will "have to believe" that the neighborhoods can be better, she said.

Baraka agreed.

"I just had it dawn on me that six months of attention will never match 40 years of neglect," Baraka told NPR.

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