NEWARK, NJ – Almost two weeks after Newark officials started a project to help the city’s homeless by converting the former Miller Street Elementary School into temporary shelter, a small shipping container village is now being set up near the corridor Penn Station as the next steps to serve additional residents in need.

There are seven containers on the Hope Village site on Newark Street that can accommodate up to 24 vulnerable or unaddressed people. This is part of a 90 day program where people with homelessness have access to the units and support services, including assistance with moving to permanent housing.

Led by Sakinah Hoyt, the Tsar for Homelessness in Newark, the project aims to attract people who are in temporary shelters and have been separated from traditional shelter and support services. The model, a first of its kind in the city and only one of three in the country, aims to change the chronically homeless through public relations and promote healthy lifestyles.

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“We have managed to do the impossible to build a beautiful, dignified, love-rooted, safe sleeping village for our most vulnerable residents,” Hoyt said Monday during the site’s launch. “We will continue to aggressively move the needle to end homelessness.”

In addition to Hoyt’s efforts through the city, the village has also partnered with aid programs, Homes 4 the Homeless, and Newark’s United Community Corporation (UCC) to help plan and build the site, as well as provide daily services to its residents.

The village consists of 20 dormitories and two utility rooms with private shower rooms and a multipurpose structure. The rooms are simply furnished and have heating, a bunk bed with additional storage space and a small chest of drawers. Funding for the $ 900,000 project was provided by the city in addition to the CARES Act and a County Code Blue Grant.

“While we work aggressively to place [homeless residents] This is a first step towards permanent, permanent housing, ”said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “We want to bring them to this place and give them the services they need to convert them into permanent shelter because there are a lot more people who need help and care.”

Newark is currently home to over 1,800 homeless people, around 350 of whom live unprotected with services such as warming centers, soup kitchens and libraries that are unavailable during the cold winter months due to COVID-19. People who live on the street and urgently need alternatives.

As the city continues to cater to the needs of its homeless residents, compounded by the pandemic, projects like Hope Village and Miller Street may prove crucial in solving the problem.

“Sometimes a crisis happens and a crisis is an opportunity to see the things that we have missed for so long,” said Baraka. “Now we have an obligation because we now know we have an obligation to do something about it.”

Before the website was launched, various agencies met every week to design a service model. Under the direction of the City’s Homeless Services Office, the agencies included UCC, Bridges Outreach, Inc., Essex Morris Mental Health Association, Northern New Jersey’s drug treatment center of excellence, Integrity House, Essex County’s community action division and the Essex County Continuum of Care.

Homes 4 the Homeless designers said they chose modular steel structures because of their sturdy construction because they are safe and allow for quick deployment and redeployment. The organization’s officials also said they will continue to consult with the city on project management, design, budgeting, site planning, contracting, manufacturing the units and identifying supporting services.

“We’re proud to be part of such a quick response to help people who live outside in the cold,” said homeless tailor Steve Schneider. “When people freeze to death, every day is important. When you have the right team, you can do things that are normally not possible. In this case, we will solve this problem quickly and efficiently. It was really remarkable to see all the support come together. “

Meanwhile, UCC officials said their organization plans to involve the community in case management, support services, and local outreach, in collaboration with the Service Model Task Force convened to develop programmatic services. These agencies will work together through a comprehensive, low-barrier service model to move residents from the accommodation to the home.

“We are 100% involved in this project,” said Craig Mainor, Executive Director of UCC. “Our mission is to help the plight of the poor in this city and to help them move from desperate situations to stable opportunities. That’s what we do I am honored to be able to work with the city on such an important issue as homelessness. We are ready to move mountains to end poverty in Newark City. “

Bloomberg Associates has also consulted on the project and will measure the pilot’s success at no cost to the city. The Newark Housing Authority has partnered with the city to provide residential vouchers for residents of the shelter. When demonstrably successful and philanthropic donations are substantial, city officials have announced plans to add containers to inventory and retrofit the current containers to homes.

Corporations and philanthropic partners interested in contributing to Hope Village’s container protection program can contact Sakinah Hoyte at [email protected] or Kevin Callaghan at [email protected]