In Newark, Small Strides Toward More Affordable Housing

By David Cruz

It’s a warm, sunny day in the South Ward of Newark, and city officials are gathering in front of this notorious apartment building on Stratford Place to announce the distribution of housing vouchers for tenants displaced by horrific conditions. It’s the first of two stops where Mayor Ras Baraka will be able to celebrate finding affordable homes for people in dire need.

“We are working hard to make sure that that is something we can provide for people; that’s why we’re not going to take this building completely off the rolls,” said Baraka. “We are reselling the building and it’s going to be redeveloped and it’s going to be affordable housing still. These people in here are just going to have to move so that we can go ahead and do that.”

But even as the city cracks down on slumlords, like the one who owned this building, it must find places for these tenants to live. The state-financed housing vouchers help, but just finding clean, safe and affordable housing in this city where market rate housing makes developers the most money. For a single mom like Yanira Cortez, it’s a daily struggle.

“Well, it’s very hard. Our building was shut down — 86 Brunswick, owned by the same landlord,” she said. “It was shut down last year. Going to apply to different places that are public housing. It takes about two to three years to get on the waiting list, not to call you back, not to receive an apartment, but actually the waiting period of it.”

[Read more at NJTV]