Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka Credit: City of Newark/Facebook photo

Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced the projects that will be built under Affordable Newark, his $20 million housing initiative targeted to Newark families earning $32,000 or less, 30 percent of the area median income (AMI) for a family of four, in a press conference at 2-18 Stratford Place. These buildings are now in the process of renovation to quality affordable housing. At the event, the mayor said that more than one third of the Affordable Newark housing will be created by minority and women developers and co-developers (MWBE).

Affordable Newark is one of Mayor Baraka’s many initiatives designed to create and preserve affordable housing. It is particularly important at a time when corporate investors have been buying owner-occupied Newark homes and converting them to market-rate rentals. Mayor Baraka was joined by David D. Troutt, author of Who Owns Newark, the recently released Rutgers University report documenting the dangerous extent of corporate purchase of Newark homes and Homes Beyond Reach, the research report that documented the need for programs such as Affordable Newark targeted to families earning $32,000 or less.

“Last year, we set forth very ambitious five-year housing goals prioritizing housing in all five wards that the average Newark resident can afford,” said Mayor Baraka. “Fifty-nine percent of all Newark renters are cost-burdened, spending more than a third of their incomes for housing. Much of the housing defined as affordable under federal housing programs is not affordable by the people of Newark. The Affordable Newark program is one way for us to help fill this gap.”

Among the developments are renovation of an existing vacant apartment complex containing two midrise buildings on Stratford Place in the South Ward; permanent housing on 3rd Avenue in the East Ward for homeless veterans; two mid-rise apartment buildings on vacant lots on South 15th and 16th Streets in the West Ward; a package of three mid-rise buildings in the North and West Wards; construction of affordable housing for seniors on Thomas Street in the East Ward; and an upcoming 10-story mixed-income residential development on the corner of Halsey Street and Central Avenue in the Central Ward, in the heart of downtown. (Full List Attached)

To further ensure equity across these projects, preference was given to minority and women-owned developers or co-developers, and small-scale developments of 30 or fewer units.

“Mayor Baraka has made equitable growth and truly affordable housing a major priority of the City of Newark,” said David Troutt “He created the Equitable Growth Commission and worked with us to create Affordable Newark, a stronger Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, better rent control enforcement and a rubric to ensure that all City departments are focused on making Newark a more equitable city.”

Affordable Newark is being financed by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal and local housing trust fund dollars. Developers were able to apply for these funds based on the following criteria:

·         City funding is only provided to produce units at 30 percent or less AMI

·         Units above 30 percent AMI must be funded with other sources

·         City funds can finance up to 50 percent of the per unit cost

·         The project can be mixed income

·         Preference for projects that produce units with at least two bedrooms

·         Affordability period must be a minimum of 20 years

The Stratford Place buildings were once infamous for their uninhabitable conditions, as well as health and fire code violations. Now more than one-third of the 75 apartments under rehabilitation are being financed under Affordable Newark.

Announced in 2021, Newark’s five-year housing goalsoutline critical, measurable targets for affordable housing that will ensure all Newarkers have access to safe, affordable housing. The City has created a tracker with information on the number of homes that have been funded and built in the city, where they are located, how affordable they are, and more. The tracker will be updated periodically and brings together data from more than eight city agencies and partner organizations. It was developed in collaboration with Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The tracker reveals that since the announcement of Affordable Newark, almost 40 percent of the affordable homes funded in the city were targeted to households at or below 30 percent of the Area Median Income (approximately $32,000 or less annually for a family of four). This is more than five times the number of units constructed for families earning this amount in each of the four previous years. The total number of Affordable Newark units funded at 30 percent AMI is 196. To access the tracker, click here.

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