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Newark sets up retrofitted shipping containers to help house homeless people

An alternative to traditional homeless shelters comes to Newark, with the hope of being a catalyst to end homelessness in the city.

News 12 Staff

May 1, 2021, 2:27 AM

Updated 1,118 days ago

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An alternative to traditional homeless shelters comes to Newark, with the hope of being a catalyst to end homelessness in the city.
Newark Hope Village on Newark Street and Central Avenue boasts a safe place for the homeless to rest and heal. The once-vacant lot now serves as transitional housing for some of Newark’s most vulnerable people who once had to call Newark Penn Station home.
“What we decided to do was envision some new way that’s less shelter-ish, but more of a home for the community that had already established themselves down at Penn Station,” says United Community executive director Craig Mainor.
In a city of almost 300,000 people, there are just over 2,000 residents occupying Newark shelters and about 300 identified homeless unsheltered individuals.
“Many of those folks did not want to go to an established shelter for whatever reason,” Mainor says. “They had bad shelter experiences.”
Newark Hope Village hopes to make the experience of having to stay in temporary housing more welcoming.
“You don’t need identification. You don’t have to be sober. You don’t have to have clearance from your doctor, as long as you can live independently,” says Newark homelessness czar Sakinah Hoyte.
The temporary homes are made from seven retrofitted shipping containers. They can house up to two adults in a dorm-style dwelling. A separate container houses private bathrooms. About 24 residents currently live in the village. It was all put into place within three months.
“We had to be very cognizant of the codes and standards, making sure that these were code-compliant and making sure that we could get through the inspection process in such a short amount of time,” says Hoyte.
The program only allows adults – either single or couples. Residents have access to social services through United Community Corporation. Its goal is to get the non-sheltered homeless population off the streets and ultimately into permanent housing within six months.
Once the city’s 90-day contract expires, the village will have to come down. But the city is already looking ahead and trying to find ways to make the pilot project permanent.
It is currently being funded through the CARES Act and the city of Newark, along with the New Jersey Code Blue Act.


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