Newark mayor unveils a slate of affordable housing sites as rents spike

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka unveiled roughly two dozen affordable housing sites on the horizon for New Jersey’s largest city Thursday, as it battles a wave of rising rents pummeling the tri-state area.

Families earning $32,000 or less will qualify for housing under the city’s Affordable Newark initiative, for which the first handful of projects were announced last fall. Rents throughout the city have risen by a third on average since last year, according to a study from Redfin, a real estate website.

The rate of increase outpaces even the sizable jump in rents in New York City, where housing affordability in a city of renters has been a longstanding issue.

“These are not problems that happened a year ago, or two years ago,” said Baraka, speaking in front of a formerly derelict building that’s being converted into affordable housing. “These are problems that have existed in this city and major cities like Newark for decades.”

Baraka, fresh of re-election to his third term, said the initiative will prioritize minority and female developers, who will create a third of the housing.

Newark is home to a majority renter population where median household income hovered just above $37,000 between 2016 and 2020, according to the most recently available Census data.

Evictions have risen nationwide as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated economic need in the United States and around the world. New Jersey’s moratorium on most evictions expired in January.

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