Newark, NJ—March 15, 2022 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka presented his eighth State of the City Address this evening from the Prudential Theater of New Jersey Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Center Street. The speech, themed “Part II: Newark. And Proud of It,” drew a live audience, and was livestreamed.
Among the Mayor’s major subjects in the address were the City’s eight years of the administration’s achievements, including public safety, employment, economic development, housing, lead service lines, and the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before Mayor Baraka took the stage, the city presented a video on the administration’s accomplishments over its eight years in office. The video can be seen here.
Mayor Baraka began his speech by describing his deep personal roots in Newark, saying, “I come to you this evening as a kid from Newark. Son of Amiri and Amina Baraka, who both gave their heart and blood to this city. They made deep sacrifices for the city and the families that live here. They loved and still love this city immensely and have passed that love down to me, and I have tried in my years to use that love to create hope, to build belief, and ultimately the courage to transform – to move from what we know to what we can imagine. I have used that love to move our city forward. I come to you tonight as the Mayor of the city of my birth. A city that I love and a city that I am proud of.”
A copy of the speech is attached.
In his speech, the Mayor highlighted a few of the many accomplishments for his eight years in office:
- Mayor pointed to city’s collective efforts to reduce COVID-19 cases and positivity rate, which saved lives.
- City’s efforts enabled it to re-open safely and restore its economy.
- In 2013, Newark’s unemployment rate was 14 percent. It fell to just more than five percent before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and rose to 22 percent during its height. The unemployment rate is now at eight percent.
- With the help of Anchors institutions, 4,000 residents were employed, doubling the City’s Newark 2020 goal.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESS SERVICES
- Newark was able to disburse $20 million of American Rescue Plan monies to residents in need, to help them pay back rent.
- Opened new full-service homeless shelter, Miller Street Pathways to Housing Center, to support residents without addresses at former school. 24,000-square-foot shelter offers 166 beds, counseling, case management, and social services. Designed to transition residents to more stable housing.
- Newark Hope Village uses innovative remodeled shipping containers to temporarily shelter the most vulnerable. Two more are scheduled for construction this year.
- Developing Drop-In Center at Penn Station that will provide case management and social services to turn people who are “shelter-averse” into “shelter first,” and then transition them into independence and housing.
- Council passed groundbreaking Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that requires developers to set aside 20 percent of their units to create affordability. Mayor introduced amendments to Ordinance to increase supply of housing that residents can afford and ensure that Newark is an equitable city.
- Created New Jersey’s only Land Bank. It increases homeownership citywide, regardless of income level, including Section 8 recipients who can use their rental vouchers to purchase their first homes.
- $20 million in new housing will be targeted to residents with a household income of $32,000 or less.
- We are funding preservation of 6,000 affordable units and will support 10,000 vulnerable or unsheltered households every single year.
- Newark has continued to grow, even during the pandemic, concentrating on equity.
- The city has billions of dollars of scheduled development. New restaurants and businesses are opening.
- Newark Equitable Growth Advisory Commission was formed to partner with city to ensure that projects focus on the most vulnerable residents as economy sprints forward.
- First Source ordinance requires 30 percent of vendors be Newark residents and 51 percent be minority- or women-owned.
- Invited anchor institutions to return to Newark as we continue our economic recovery.
- Ended $93 Million deficit and balanced Municipal budget.
- Offered tax relief to residents, which has not been done in more than a decade.
- Extended broadband and Wi-Fi to city parks and recreation centers. Provided Chromebooks to senior citizens. City seeks to ensure that every resident has access to free or very low-cost broadband to bridge digital divide.
- Invested a $2 million grant to address food insecurity by growing smaller urban farms as co-ops.
- Hired more than 500 police officers.
- Cut homicides by 50 percent. Newark is at a 60-year low in overall crime.
- Created an Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, supported by five percent ($12 million) of the Public Safety budget, and Brick City Police Collective, expanding the work Newark has been doing with community-based organizations. City set aside $19 million for such organizations.
- Changed police policies and practices, including additional training for officers to improve their interactions with community, providing them and requiring them to wear body cameras, and creating the first and only Civilian Complaint Review Board in the State of New Jersey.
- Created Newark Parks Foundation, Inc., which held 200 events this past summer, drawing 35,000 attendees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Creating Ridgewood Park, Newark’s first park designed for community members diagnosed with Autism.
LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT
- City replaced every known lead service line, more than 23,000, at no cost to the taxpayer, in less than three years.
- Vice President Kamala Harris visited Newark to highlight success of our replacement program, pointing to city as a national model for similar such programs.
- “We came here…to highlight what you have accomplished here in Newark as an example and a role model of what cities around our country are capable of doing. I thank you for that,” she said.
Towards the end of his speech, Mayor Baraka said “I am asking you to believe in Newark’s children, believe in our ability to get to victory. Believe that the seeds we have planted will blossom. That the work we are doing and the places we are building will be made useful for all of us. It was belief that got us through COVID-19. It was belief that got us through our lead crisis. It was belief that got our schools back. It was belief that helped us reduce violence. It was belief that moved us where we are. Belief in ourselves and belief that Newark will be okay. Belief that nothing can stop us.”
The event was streamed live on Facebook; on Newark’s Government Access Channel, NWK TV (Ch. 78 on Altice/Ch. 28 on Fios); and the city’s web page at www.newarknj.gov.
The State of the City Booklet can be accessed here.
For more information on the City of Newark, please visit our website