An Essex County organization has announced plans for a new housing community targeted towards local residents who experience homelessness.
The New Community Corporation (NCC) will develop ‘A Better Life’, a new building at 93-101 14th Avenue in Newark’s Central Ward, between Camden Street and Bergen Street. According to the City of Newark, the building will be “the first ‘safe haven’ housing facility for chronically homeless persons with severe mental illnesses in New Jersey”. Twenty-four studio apartments will be located inside the two-story building, and each unit includes a restroom, kitchenette, and living area.
The $8,041,235 project will be funded by New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Red Stone Equity Partners, the Essex County HOME Program, the Newark HOME Program, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. Jersey City’s LWDMR Architects will design the building.
Residents of A Better Life will not pay rent, according to a statement, and “the supportive housing project aims to reduce the burden placed on the emergency care system at University Hospital”. Frequent hospital emergency patients will be identified and referred to A Better Life’s staff. Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care will be the main service provider at the site, and the NCC will provide maintenance, security, and property management. There will also be an on-site supervisor from the NCC.
The lot, located near several other NCC facilities and the Springfield Avenue Marketplace, has been a vacant tract for many years. Newark’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the plans in October of 2015.
Several local officials, including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., and NCC CEO Richard Rohrman attended a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday morning at the site.
“A Better Life is an important first step toward a new paradigm for how Newark deals with a population that desperately needs help”, said Mayor Baraka in a statement.