Newark Commits $20M In Affordable Housing Projects Across City

“We want to redevelop, repurpose and transform this community,” Baraka said.

Other projects that will be funded through the Affordable Newark program include the renovation of permanent housing on 3rd Avenue in the East Ward for homeless veterans; building a 10-story mixed-income residential development on the corner of Halsey Street and Central Avenue; and building an all-affordable apartment community in the Ironbound on Thomas Street. To see a full list of projects that will be funded through the Affordable Newark program, click her

The Stratford Apartments project will be headed by Exact Capital Group, a New York City-based real estate developer and minority-owned business, which took ownership of the property in 2017 after the two mid-rise buildings were shut down due to uninhabitable conditions, as well as health and fire code violations.

Exact Capital Managing Partner Craig Livingston said the Stratford project plan calls for the vacant building to be rehabilitated and transformed into modern, all-affordable housing. The development is proposed to contain 28 units at 30% AMI and 47 units at 80% AMI.

Livingston also noted that by hiring minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) like Exact Capital to carry out these projects, more people of color are likely to be afforded job opportunities. More than one-third of the housing projects under the Affordable Newark program will be led by MWBEs, according to city officials.

"The data is clear that when a minority developer is awarded a project like this, we have a much higher propensity to spend money with other companies - be they law firms, plumbers, architects, electricians, masons - that are also owned by minority owners," Livingston said. "Those companies, in turn, hire people who look like me."

For the mayor, it seemed fitting to announce the city’s housing goals in front of the Stratford Apartments, located in the city’s Lower Clinton Hill neighborhood. He recalled walking up and down the streets around the apartment buildings as a youth.

“This is my community. I’m not a stranger to this neighborhood,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is a pleasure to be able to see development happening that I’m actually a part of in this community.”

Residents seemed hopeful about the project, too.

Preston Glanton, a resident of the Central Ward for 58 years, called the Stratford Apartments project “a blessing” to the neighborhood, recalling a long history of crime and other illegal activity that has taken place around the blighted property.

“I’ve been here, and I know what happens right here in this neighborhood,” Glanton told TAPinto Newark. “It’s a drug-infested area… killings. I’ve seen a lot of stuff - this whole block right here.”

In urban communities like Newark, providing housing stability could be key to reducing crime and addressing quality of life issues in neighborhoods.

Research shows that when people are stably housed, they’re less likely to commit a non-violent offense, according to Housing Matters, an organization that advocates for affordable housing initiatives.

David Troutt, director of the Newark-based Rutgers Law School Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity (CLiME), noted that when it comes to promoting stability in a community, providing adequate housing is pivotal.

“Housing stability is really the essence of family stability and workplace stability,” Troutt said. “It affects child welfare, peoples’ access to schools, healthcare, and the experience of their lives without so much stress that they can’t figure out what their next move is going to be.”

Part of Troutt’s work with CLiME is dedicated to spotlighting housing issues in Newark that has helped shape new policies and initiatives from Newark officials.

In February 2021, Troutt co-authored a report that revealed Newark's housing stock falls short to provide affordable units for low-income residents by about 16,000 units. Following the release of the report, the mayor’s office teamed up with CLiME, the city Office of Economic and Housing Development and local partners to draft a multi-pronged approach to address what Baraka called “a growing problem in this town and a growing problem in this region.”

Last week, a new report co-authored by Troutt revealed that more than 40% of Newark’s single-family homes (homes between one and four units) between 2017 and 2020 were sold to institutional buyers, backed by investors, to buy homes to rent out and pay investors through money from rent collection.

The recent uptick in these transactions left officials and residents fearing the city could see a significant decrease in homeownership by residents, push current residents out as a result of dramatic rent increases, reduce the availability of affordable housing, spur renter displacement, and exacerbate instability in communities.

In response to the report, the CLiME director worked with the city to formulate policies and potential legislation to address the issues highlighted in the report. Part of the city’s plans included tightening up laws to prevent illegal solicitation practices and imposing a fee on renting and landlord registrations for property owners and landlords that increase rents above 5% year-over-year.

“All of the reports and information that we’ve been getting… we’ve been moving on it,” Baraka said.

By creating more affordable housing opportunities, officials aim to keep low-income residents in the city rather than push them out as new development transforms the area. To date, 59% of all Newark renters are cost-burdened and spend more than a third of their incomes for housing, according to data from the city.

The mayor is hopeful the Affordable Newark program can help close that gap.

“[The Stratford Apartments] project is not the last of it,” he said. “Every opportunity we get to get more funding, we’re going to invest it to make sure we get 6,000 new affordable units in the next couple of years.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-05-13 03:12:25 -0700