Newark Projected to Receive $182M in Stimulus Aid

NEWARK, NJ — Newark is slated to receive nearly $182 million in aid as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday. 

With Newark having suffered some of the highest reported positive cases and COVID-related deaths in the state since the pandemic began, local officials have rolled out multiple efforts to combat the virus. Those efforts, however, have come with a cost, putting a strain on the city’s budget.

In order to cover these expenses, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. said the aid could potentially alleviate things such as overtime paid to public safety, law enforcement and other municipal agencies connected to the city’s pandemic response.

“Having this kind of relief package is important to offset some of the reductions in revenue, but to also help the city cover some of the additional expenses brought on by COVID testing [in addition] to setting up vaccination sites,” Ramos told TAPinto Newark. “This is much needed.” 

In an effort to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, city officials have launched multiple programs to roll out vaccines into the community. These efforts included the formation of a partnership with local religious leaders in February to ensure the vaccine’s safety as well as provide equitable access to Newark’s minority communities. 

The city has also hosted multiple distribution events to provide necessities such as food, water and other supplies to residents affected by the pandemic.

Faced with already one of the largest homeless populations in the state which was further exacerbated by the pandemic, officials also stepped up efforts over the last year to provide resources to the city’s residents in need such as shelter initiatives and vaccination programs. 

“The [aid] should be used to reimburse the city for expenses it incurred during the pandemic such as housing for the homeless and for salaries paid to people that were not able to come to work in the city,” said council member-at-large Carlos Gonzalez. 

In addition to alleviating expenses brought on by the pandemic, Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz told TAPinto Newark that the aid could potentially be allocated towards funding one-shot programs which she said must be "strategic, conscious and collective" in order to assist residents. 

“Let’s create the blueprint. How can we create a one-time program that if you make an investment, the return on that will be greater than what you put in," Ruiz said. "It’s a resource to make an investment in human capital." 

The senator explained that as unemployment numbers rose exponentially during the pandemic, funding for employment assistance programs could potentially prove to be vital for the city.

"Could we use that funding to create a revitalized training program that connects people who are still unemployed to a high-growth sector that is existing and seeking to match people up with jobs," she said. 

Although the city has yet to announce its course of action as to how it will allocate the funding to address the impacts of the pandemic, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka explained during a virtual panel discussion on Wednesday that the aid may be allocated towards resources laid out in the bill such as housing, small businesses, rental assistance and mortgage aid. 

“With this larger pot of money that we are going to get, we are going to discuss how we can use that to do exactly what was asked and how to mitigate some of the issues that were brought about because of COVID and that existed pre-COVID,” Baraka said. 

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-03-12 03:12:21 -0800