(NEWARK, NJ) -- Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City's Homelessness Czar Luis Ulerio announced on May 25, 2023 that the City of Newark will take steps to improve the H.E.L.P. Center, which houses residents without addresses, after health and fire inspections revealed appalling conditions at the facility. Located at 224 Sussex Avenue, the facility is operated by the Sussex Avenue Renewal Corporation. Persons being sheltered at the center will be moved temporarily to emergency housing beds across Essex County with supports in place over the next several weeks.
Housing Code Enforcement, Fire Division, and Health and Community Wellness Department inspectors responded to complaints at the facility made earlier this month, and found an abundance of insects, no hot water, strewn garbage and debris, defective heaters and toilets, and damaged and missing windows. They also found that the kitchen was poorly maintained, which prompted officials to shut down the area during the inspection. Sleeping quarters were not properly kept up, and residents' medications were not properly stored. There was no security at the front desk, defective smoke detectors, and hazardous conditions arising from improperly used or installed electrical wiring. The center was cited for all of these violations and is now facing action in Municipal Court.
"My administration has made the needs of residents without addresses a high priority, and we demand that organizations contracted to provide these residents with shelters treat them with the highest respect and quality of service in every way," Mayor Baraka said. "This organization has violated their legal and moral responsibility to do so, and we will hold them fully accountable for their behavior."
The Mayor's Office of Homeless Services, under Director Ulerio, is holding meetings with the affected residents to discuss their living conditions and the actions the city is taking to address their complaints.
"Improving shelter conditions and experiences for Newark residents is one of the priorities of the Mayor's Homelessness Strategic Plan. We are taking affirmative steps to address these concerns and better support our residents," said Mr. Ulerio. "We will also work closely with management to develop a plan that will deliver a stronger shelter model for our residents without addresses."
The city will consider alternative legal solutions to ensure the facility is brought up to code.