January 8, 2024


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Newark, NJ – January 8, 2024 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services Luis Ulerio today opened the second iteration of Hope Village, “Come As You Are” Bridge Housing Community, located at 51-63 Elizabeth Avenue.

Joining them were Newark Municipal Council Members, Acting HUD Newark Field Office Director Carleton K. Lewis, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Assistant Commissioner Janel Winter, and RWJBarnabas Health President and CEO Mark E. Manigan.

Following the success of Hope Village I, Mayor Ras J. Baraka charged the Office of Homeless Services to build more communities that followed the same low-barrier model that was immensely effective in serving residents in the first village, from which 53 people have already been permanently housed. The Bridge Housing Community will allow more residents to move off the streets and begin their journey towards a permanent home.

For this second iteration, the city engaged the original Hope Village community to inform the design, and assembled a creative team of professionals to bring this innovative project to life. Such meaningful resident input and professional talent combined to create an advanced housing model intended to encourage a “come as you are” transition into a supportive, services-infused community for Newark residents who have experienced chronic, prolonged street homelessness and often have a disabling condition.

“There are cities in the U.S. that are debating their right to tear down ‘tent cities,’ and of people’s rights to live on the street,” said Mayor Baraka. “But here in Newark, as we focus on the roots of homelessness and lasting solutions, our discussions center on how best to bring safety, security and comfort to our unhoused residents. Our city doesn’t treat homelessness as a fringe issue. We have staff dedicated full time to building relationships with our residents without addresses, and guiding their ‘Path Home.’ I’m grateful to our Office of Homeless Services Director Luis Ulerio and all the partners who have made today possible, and I congratulate everyone who will be living here as they start an exciting new phase of their lives.”

As part of “The Path Home,” Mayor Baraka’s and the Office of Homelessness Services’ three-year plan to end chronic homelessness, this second site supports the city’s strategy of expanding housing and services by increasing the number of low-barrier units available in the community. A multi-pronged comprehensive initiative, this data-driven strategic plan has received national attention for achieving a 57.6% reduction in its unsheltered homeless population within the span of one year.

“We realized during the pandemic that the city needed more housing-first options for chronic and street homeless residents, and out of that tragedy a new model was developed. We are grateful for all the public and private partners who contributed to this expansion because it truly takes a community to restore hope,” stated Mr. Ulerio.

“I am pleased to be a part of the opening of this bridge housing community as we collectively work to restore dignity and hope to our most vulnerable and transient residents,” said South Ward Council Member Patrick O. Council.  

“In the heart of Newark, Hope Village is a transformative community that welcomes individuals exactly as they are, embracing their unique journeys and challenges. It stands as a testament to our collective commitment to compassion and action,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, in a statement. “The State of New Jersey has allocated crucial funds through Budget Fiscal Year 2024 for the City of Newark Homeless Housing Program; underscoring our dedication to improving the lives of those facing harsh realities. Through this initiative, we are not merely providing shelter; we are restoring dignity, fostering resilience, and offering a pathway to stability.”

The “Come As You Are” Bridge Housing Community consists of twelve International Code Council (ICC) certified containers, which are fashioned into four clusters of residential units with dorm-style rooms, private shower facilities, and communal spaces for twenty chronically homeless Newark residents. The community will have an administrative office for support staff, and a multi-purpose space for resident engagement and interaction. The grounds include a park space for gatherings and relaxation, as well as community gardens and green houses where food and nutrition education and aeroponics workshops will take place.

“Addressing homelessness with the urgency it deserves is a priority for HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and Newark faced the challenge head on,” said Mr. Lewis. “HUD provided funding to the “Come As You” Are Bridge Housing Community” through the HUD Office of Community, Planning and Development, which assists local governments with homelessness and housing. Increasing the supply of affordable housing is also a priority for HUD, and this development contributes to closing the long-standing gap between supply and demand of affordable homes.”  

“The opening of the second Hope Village community represents an innovative next step in the City’s admirable progress in implementing its plan to end chronic homelessness in Newark,” said Ms. Winter. “This community truly provides a bridge to permanent housing and better health for those in need.”

Jim Pelliccio, Chair of the City of Newark Commission on Homelessness and President and CEO of The Port Newark Container Terminal, contributed funding and expertise toward this project.  His support enabled technological upgrades to the physical infrastructure, allowing internet access that will enhance residents’ quality of life.

RWJBarnabas Health supported the project by partnering to fund furnishings, as well as provide liaison services to connect residents with healthcare resources. Through its support, residents of the bridge housing community will be able to move into newly-furnished spaces with comfortable couches and chairs, computer stations, and other amenities necessary for daily living. By designating a community health worker to engage with residents, RWJBarnabas Health fulfills the medical component required as part of the mayor's plan to ensure that chronically homeless Newarkers have the medical and mental health supports needed for their transition to independence.

“RWJBarnabas Health’s commitment to the residents of Newark and its mission to build and sustain a healthier New Jersey can only be achieved by extending our support far beyond the walls of our facilities,” said Mr. Manigan. “It also requires collaboration with mission-oriented partners, like the City of Newark. Being a part of the Path Home Project to end chronic homelessness is a privilege and we look forward to serving as a resource to the residents of Hope Village.”

Youth Build Newark, a program to help disconnected young people earn their GEDs and on-the-job experience, provided essential demolition and carpentry on site, while enabling workers to improve skill proficiencies. Over several months, multiple groups of youth finished the floors, assembled furniture, and completed both interior and exterior painting to help turn the containers into homes.

Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy that advises cities around the world and is part of Bloomberg Philanthropies, supported Newark in the creation of the original Hope Village, and continues to provide ongoing assistance and capacity as the city expands and improves upon the model.  Low-barrier housing options are a critical component of the city's effort to end chronic street homelessness.

The Come As You Are grounds will be further beautified by a generous donation from the Nature Conservancy to include 30 evergreen trees, 37 shrubs, and 16 ornamental trees on the site. In addition, Rutgers Equity Alliance for Community Health (REACH) will maintain the garden spaces as well as offer food and nutrition education opportunities and aeroponics workshops.

As with every large-scale initiative in Mayor Baraka’s administration, success is achieved through the collaborative efforts of residents and the public, private and voluntary sectors, blending the contributions of the widest range of participants. This second iteration of Hope Village, “Come As You Are” Bridge Housing Community was launched with additional support from:

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Hamlett Development, LLC
  • Bloomberg Associates
  • eP2 Civil Engineering
  • NJIT Hillier School of Architecture and Design
  • On-It Construction
  • Project for Empty Space
  • Think Wilder Architecture
  • The Port Newark Container Terminal
  • Interport
  • United Community Corporation
  • YouthBuild
  • Jacobs Architecture
  • The Nature Conservatory
  • RWJBarnabas
  • Rutgers Department of Family and Community Health Sciences
  • Avatar Tech, LLC
  • Invest Newark
  • Newark Municipal Council
  • Newark’s Department of Economic and Housing Development
  • Newark’s Department of Engineering
  • Newark’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities
  • Newark’s Office of Sustainability
  • Newark People's Assembly
  • PSE&G
  • GigXero

For photos, please click here.


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