Newark Hope Village, an innovative program that uses converted shipping containers as temporary housing for the homeless, was introduced Monday by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
The facility, which Newark officials believe to be the first of its kind in the state and one of few in the country that meet the International Code Council building codes for safe human habitation, will be comprised of seven containers that will shelter 24 homeless individuals from the Penn Station corridor.
The containers, which have been converted into code-compliant modular residences, consist of 20 dorm-style rooms and two utility structures with private shower rooms and a multipurpose structure. The rooms have simple furnishings, including a heater, bunk bed with extra storage and a small dresser.
The innovative 90-day program will be located at 79 Newark St. in Newark.
Baraka said Newark Hope Village will be a no-requirement, come-as-you-are safe sleeping village where people experiencing homelessness can have access to shelter and supportive services, including assistance with transition to permanent housing.
Baraka said it is designed to attract individuals that are shelter-adverse and have been disengaged from traditional shelters and supportive homeless services. The service model aims to transition chronically homeless individuals through targeted street outreach to an atmosphere within the village that can promote healthy living and a continuum of social service supports.
“Many of our residents without addresses have been traumatized by the system that was created to serve them,” Baraka said. “Housing is the key, but we must first reestablish trust with those who have been scarred.
“Newark Hope Village will provide a welcoming atmosphere, where our most vulnerable have an opportunity to reengage in services in a safe and therapeutic shelter. I will continue to work on pioneering strategies to end homelessness in our city in partnership with public, private and nonprofit partners.”
How you can help
Corporate and philanthropic partners interested in contributing to the Newark Hope Village container sheltering program, to help house Newark’s homeless, should contact Sakinah Hoyte at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kevin Callaghan at email@example.com.
Funding is being provided by the CARES Act, the Essex County Division of Community Action through the state of New Jersey Code Blue Grant, and the city of Newark.
Baraka, Sakinah Hoyte (the city’s homelessness czar), Mike Loganbill (vice president and chief operating officer of Homes 4 the Homeless) and Craig Mainor (executive director of United Community Corp.) were part of the announcement.
Hoyte credited Baraka for his persistence on the issue.
“Mayor Baraka is committed to imploring targeted strategies to reengage our chronically homeless populations into services, and always through collaboration,” he said. “This was truly a joint effort, with many partners bringing forth collective resources to address this critical issue.
“Our service model task force aimed to leverage the safe and tranquil village atmosphere, with the various service provision offerings including substance abuse and behavioral health services, intensive case management and housing navigation to promote healthy living and, ultimately, a smooth transition to permanent housing.”
Various agencies convened weekly to tailor a unique service model, in preparation of the pilot launch. Led by the city of Newark’s Office of Homeless Services, agencies included United Community Corp., Bridges Outreach Inc., the Mental Health Association of Essex Morris, the Northern NJ Medication-Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence, Integrity House, Essex County Division of Community Action, and the Essex County Continuum of Care.