As we look to 2018, we wanted to know from Mayor Ras Baraka what innovation should we expect to see in Newark for the new year.
What innovative ways are you addressing homelessness?
As winter comes to Newark, we recognize that we have a serious homeless population in our city, and that these residents—including veterans, victims of the foreclosure crisis, and the mentally ill—must receive our support.
We are planning to open and operate a city-run homeless shelter, with the help of Catholic Charities, to provide short-term solutions and assistance. For the longer term, we are working toward providing transitional housing built from converted shipping containers. These transitional accommodations will be completely off the grid, having their own water and electrical systems.
What’s new in the pipeline for affordable housing?
We are creating housing cooperatives run by residents. They will include artist and commercial cooperatives, and “infill” housing, which takes empty lots and small, open plots of land and turns them into housing. These projects will create new homes, end urban blight, and restore empty lots to the tax rolls.
What are you planning to do about the lesser known neighborhoods?
Recognizing that our city’s economic success depends not only on its downtown but also on its neighborhoods and their small businesses and families, we are moving to strengthen the economic power of the major commercial corridors in our neighborhoods. We are concentrating development on South Orange Avenue, Clinton Avenue, Bergen Street, Central Avenue, and Bloomfield Avenue, using eminent domain* to remove blighted and empty buildings and turn them into useful housing and productive businesses that will hire Newark residents.
This is development in and for our neighborhoods. It strengthens the lives and prosperity of Newark residents, attracts investment to our city, and continues to define Newark as the pioneer and leader in urban change.
*Eminent domain refers to the power of a state or the federal government to take private property for public use.