June 6, 2023


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Newark, NJ – June 6, 2023 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced today that the City of Newark has received a $2.9 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) to effectively provide community-based, comprehensive, trauma-informed behavioral health crisis services to individuals experiencing mental health emergencies, including those who are homeless.

This resident support project will be a collaborative effort of the City’s Office of Homeless Services, Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery (OVPTR), and Department of Public Safety.  The consortium also includes as full partners the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Center, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, and the community-based Mental Health Association and Bridges Outreach Inc.

“On behalf of the people of Newark, I want to thank the federal Department of Health and Human Services for this important grant to support our most vulnerable residents and give them tools for a life trajectory toward self-compassion, self-sufficiency, healing and happiness,” Mayor Baraka said. “We regard substance use disorder and mental health challenges and conditions as both a public safety and a public health issue.  In our city, we all share the responsibility to reach out to pull each other up out of our difficulties and into a world full of opportunity and possibilities.”

The grant will enable the City to:

  • Increase access to comprehensive, community-based behavioral health crisis services across the City by enhancing the capacity of existing co-responder and mobile crisis response teams to respond within one hour of dispatch;
  • Create a compassionate, caring, and culturally competent behavioral health crisis workforce equipped to safely diffuse mental health crises by increasing the racial/ethnic diversity of responders and providing them evidence-based in-service and cross-agency training opportunities;
  • Enhance the responsiveness to homeless individuals experiencing mental health crises by increasing collaboration between Newark’s systems for crisis care and homeless services;
  • Create an integrated citywide crisis response system across the care continuum by enhancing cross-agency collaboration through data sharing and formalized partnerships with community-based organizations, hospital emergency departments, crisis receiving, and stabilization programs, as well as the Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Center.

“The Mayor's plan to end chronic homelessness calls for new approaches and better coordination to serve our most vulnerable residents,” said Director and Homelessness Czar Luis Ulerio. “This grant will support these efforts by deploying clinical staff on the ground to address unsheltered residents with serious mental illness and increase collaboration between homeless service providers and crisis care services to improve response, engagement, and outcomes.”

“We applaud the receipt of this grant as confirmation of the efficacy of Mayor Baraka’s strategy to comprehensively support those Newark residents without addresses and other neighbors who may be challenged by substance abuse or mental health issues,” Public Safety Director Fritz G. Fragé said. “The Newark Department of Public Safety welcomes the collaboration of community-based behavioral professionals to enhance responsiveness to the needs of this vulnerable segment of our community.”

“I am grateful to SAMSA for understanding the importance of funding mental health services. For so long, mental health in Black and Brown communities has been underfunded. This is certainly a step in the right direction as this partnership and collaboration among the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, the Department of Public Safety, and OVPTR will have a tremendous impact on the community,” said OVPTR Director LaKeesha Eure. “We will continue to work on getting to the root causes of crime and violence and by addressing  poverty, stress, housing, trauma, anxiety, depression, and quality of life issues, we will allow the community to heal. This co-response model will expand and improve the work that is already happening and allow us to be more intentional in our approach. We are keeping the public at the center of public health and public safety – and they will see us arrive together and respond collectively.”

The grant will be spread over four years.


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