Newark offers $1000 housing lots as part of a unique gift for to the city and its residents in New Jersey. Only couples were allowed to participate in this one-day-only sale, held on Valentine ’s Day. The houses are part of the city’s “model neighborhood” approach to redevelopment. Newark-native and current mayor Ras J. Baraka had a few stipulations for those who signed up for the deal. They had to promise to build a home on the lots within 18 months and they also had to promise to live there for at least five years.
Takers paid $500 on Valentine’s Day and will pay the rest on closing day. Any other additional particulars such as closing costs and site approval are up to the new homeowners. The city of Newark offers $1000 housing lots in 100 different sections. Although currently considered urban blight, officials such as Baraka believe that transforming these spots into homes will change the landscape of the city, making Newark an even stronger community. Potential home-owners who lined up overnight in below freezing temperatures were more excited about moving to this largest city in New Jersey. With local sports teams such as the New Jersey Devils, the food and sense of community, there are many reasons to want to move. Only half an hour from New York City, some residents look forward to short commute into the city as well as the excitement that proximity to the Big Apple brings.
This new attempt at redevelopment is one of many moves to jumpstart the city. Businesses and economic opportunities fled the city after the riots of the late 1960s. Newark was at the top of many dubious lists. By implementing and supporting “model neighborhoods”, city officials hope the vitality an innovation of sales like this will bring in new residents. They will do their part by increasing the number of police officers and neighborhood resources to the area. Officials believe new businesses will follow.
The lot sales is the brainchild of Baye Adofo-Wilson, deputy mayor for economic development. He believes that this effort will spawn even more businesses and people coming into Newark. One of the couples who signed up for a house intend to relocate to the area and open an espresso shop near city hall.
Mayor Ras Baraka is thrilled at the national and even international response the sale has received. A website to broadcast the innovative sale garnered more than 10,000 hits and over 200 interested couples signed up for the sale. Some even had to be turned away. Baraka, the son of famed poet Imamu Amiri Baraka and his wife Amini grew up in Newark, attending Newark Public Schools before heading southwest to Howard University. He received a B.A. in Political Science and furthered his education with a M.A. in Education Supervision from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. While the principal at Central High School from 2007-2013, he lent his vocal talents to fellow Jersey girl Lauryn Hill on her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, voicing the narrator throughout. Baraka rose through the political ranks, starting as a council member, then moving up to deputy mayor eventually ascending to his mayoral post. Newark offers $1000 housing lot sale was so popular, officials are considering holding more sales of its kind.
By Danielle Branch