June 27, 2024


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Newark, NJ – June 27, 2024 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced today that he and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services Luis Ulerio attended a two-day international conference of worldwide mayors and municipal leaders to create solutions to the global homelessness crisis, in Paris.

The conference, organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, is a partnership with the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), the Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH), and Bloomberg Associates. Between 100 and 150 participants, mostly mayors and elected officials from around the world, attended.

“The groundbreaking measures and strategy we began a year-and-a-half ago in Newark, entitled ‘The Path Home,’ to end homelessness in three years have resulted in us reducing street homelessness by 57.6 percent. While this is a considerable achievement, it also reminds us how far we have to go. Decent housing is not a privilege for human beings; it is a right, whether in Newark or Paris. We must unite, as this conference has told us, to ‘leave no one behind,’” Mayor Baraka said. “We are honored, as the smallest city represented at this conference, to be recognized for our humanitarian approach and strategic agency.”

The conference hosted local elected officials and specialized organizations and highlighted the common challenges that cities face in dealing with the growing number of homeless residents. These conversations are especially important amid the growth in migration and while policies conducted at different levels (local, national, and international) are still poorly integrated.

“It is important that cities take advantage of opportunities to discuss the pressing challenge of homelessness, develop solutions and share lessons learned,” said Linda Gibbs, Principal at Bloomberg Associates, a part of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and a former New York City Deputy Mayor for Human Services under Mayor Bloomberg. “Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has been a leader in the fight to end chronic homelessness. Newark has made great progress in reducing its number of unhoused people and by doing so has shown other city leaders that it is not an impossible task.”

Cities are currently under considerable pressure to address the homeless population’s needs, and the arrival of people seeking shelter and refuge, which poses a major challenge to them. If ambitious, coordinated, policies are introduced to receive, include, and integrate the homeless, tremendous opportunities will reveal themselves. If the opposite happens, cities may have to face a more significant increase in homelessness.

The meeting provided an opportunity to share best practices and innovative approaches developed by cities at a local level to facilitate the reception and integration of these people, while taking care to prevent competition between vulnerable groups.

The conference was timed for one month ahead of the summer Olympics being held in Paris, in an effort by that city’s mayor to use the Games to draw attention to pressing social issues.

At the conference, Mayor Baraka served as a member on a panel discussion entitled “Migration: Mayors Working to Meet the Challenges of Reception,” with Mayor Hidalgo; Bogotá Mayor Carlos Fernando Galan Pachon; Dakar, Senegal, Deputy Mayor Fambaye Ndoye; and Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas.

Other panels discussed how to make welcoming migrants an opportunity for cities; acting locally in a context of national and international constrained frameworks; and mayoral commitment to addressing homelessness.

Mayors and deputy mayors from Montreal, London, Lyons, New York, Glasgow, Casablanca, Chicago, Edmonton, Denver, and United Nations representatives also attended the conference.

Additionally, on June 20, the inaugural members of the International Mayors Council on Homelessness met in Paris to discuss and sign a joint declaration affirming each leader’s commitment to ending homelessness, and calling for global action on the issue. The International Mayors Council on Homelessness represents 12 Mayors and Council Members from global cities who are committed to reducing homelessness and creates a forum to discuss the most pressing challenges and evidence on what works.

Mayor Baraka’s groundbreaking efforts to end homelessness in Newark include transitional housing facilities like Hope Villages, where residents also receive substance abuse and mental health counseling, and housing and job placement, and classes on how to write resume and search online for jobs. Any resident who sees an unhoused person who might need assistance in Newark can send a text to 855-11 with the two-word message: “Path Home.” The message activates an outreach team to assist the person. The programs are supported by partnerships with Rutgers University-Newark, RWJ Barnabas Health, Newark Alliance, Edison Properties, the Health Care Foundation of New Jersey, and the Port Newark Container Terminal and Shipping Association.

For photos of the event, click here. Photos courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies.


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