Newark, New Jersey, is set to open the first Safe Haven housing facility for chronically homeless people with severe mental illnesses next year. Yesterday, mayor Ras Baraka participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking event for the $8 million facility. Named A Better Life by project stakeholders, the two-story, 24,063-square foot building will reportedly have 24 efficiency studio apartments, communal spaces designed to foster engagement and a unit designated for an on-call superintendent.
The facility will be New Jersey’s first HUD “safe haven” model, according to project developer New Community Corporation.
“A safe haven is a form of permanent supportive housing funded and administered under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s McKinney Vento Supportive Housing Program, which targets hard to reach homeless individuals with severe mental illness, substance abuse and other health and behavioral conditions, and have been unable or unwilling to participate in supportive services,” the organization said in a statement.
The objective of the supportive housing project is to reduce the burden placed on the emergency care system at University Hospital, according to developers. To help reach this goal, the hospital will identify high utilizers of emergency care and provide referrals to staff at A Better Life for review and placement. The primary service provider will be Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, and New Community will provide property management, maintenance, security, and an on-site supervisor, developers reportedly stated.
Funding sources for the project include the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Red Stone Equity Partners, Essex County HOME Program, Newark HOME Program, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. The project is designed by LWDMR Architects, an architecture, urban design and engineering firm located in Jersey City and Millville. The project is slated for completion by June of 2017.