The New York Times ran a story recently about the revitalization happening in the neighborhoods outside of Newark’s downtown. But unlike other blighted or disinvested areas where development usually means a demographic shift that displaces long-time locals, broader Newark’s development is different. It’s decidedly more ‘by the people, for the people’— people who have roots in the communities in which they are investing.
As the Times describes it, after decades of being a city “synonymous with urban decay,” downtown Newark has seen its share of revitalization in recent years, but in the main, that investment has not made its way to the neighborhoods where most of Newark’s residents—who are 86% Black and Latinx—live.
This has led to a concerted effort to redevelop these areas without gentrifying them—specifically by investing in new affordable housing and more homeownership opportunities for the existing population that is 78% renters.
Born & Bred - and Building
Developer Siree Morris grew up on the street where he plans to build an affordable housing complex named for his slain brother, Michael, says the Times. He has already converted one of Newark’s estimated 2,000 vacant lots into six 3-bedroom apartments and will be developing condos made from shipping containers nearby.
“You take it one property at a time, one parcel at a time,” says Morris, who still lives in Newark. “That’s the only way to rebuild a community.”