Housing Justice

Housing Justice


ICC believes as a matter of right that everyone should have access to affordable, decent housing. However, every day this is getting more challenging in our community.

Since Ironbound has attracted housing development even in the City’s lean years, it has been clear to us that if Newark is to gentrify and displace residents in the process, this will occur in Ironbound first.

The picket line outside city hall

Our work on the ground with families, especially with the most vulnerable like recent immigrants and public housing residents, who enter our Centers every day complaining of landlord harassment as well as our constant monitoring of projects at Planning and Zoning Boards has supported this concern.  When developers proudly claim at Planning Board meetings that their projects are intended for “men in suits from New York and Hoboken,” the community can easily read the writing on the wall.

This has led us to more intensively focus on housing issues in recent years and developing policies and actions that get us as much ahead of the gentrification/displacement curve as possible.  We believe strongly that these matters are best addressed through multi-prong strategies that include organizing at the grass roots, affecting policy at the government level, and many other actions in between.  While preventing gentrification and shaping a just transition in Newark’s revitalization is a yeoman’s task, we certainly have had some major successes.  Chief among these may simply be that ICC has elevated the issue of gentrification and displacement and equitable revitalization into the City’s consciousness and public discourse.

For example:

April 18, 2017: OPINION: As Newark changes, residents need to unite to protect their interests https://www.tapinto.net/towns/newark/articles/opinion-as-newark-changes-residents-need-to-uni)

 DEc. 6, 2018: Newark is changing, but it will not become Brooklyn, mayor promises. https://www.nj.com/essex/2018/12/newark-is-changing-but-it-will-not-become-brooklyn-mayor-promises.html

January 7, 2019: Ironbound Building Height Ordinance Stirs Up Gentrification Concerns. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/newark/articles/ironbound-building-height-ordinance-stirs-up-gentrification-concerns

The following are recent accomplishments towards housing justice and
equitable revitalization largely led by Ironbound Community Corporation:

Inclusionary Zoning – If Newark, including Ironbound, is to grow inclusively and equitably, it must have housing opportunities accessible to all incomes. ICC believes that one of the ways to achieve this would be through Inclusionary Zoning. In early 2016, ICC drafted an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (IZO) and proposed it to Mayor Baraka. The Mayor fully endorsed it, invited ICC into Mayoral cabinet meetings to pursue its development (and ICC invited colleagues with the Mayor’s approval), and, after many revisions and ICC rallying city-wide support, a strong ordinance closely resembling the ICC draft was passed by the City Council. In brief, Newark’s IZO mandates 20% affordability at 40% to 80% AMI for new projects of 30 or more units requiring any type of variance; this is clearly one of the strongest Inclusionary Ordinances in the country.
Right to Counsel – In 2017, ICC met numerous times with the NYC Right to Counsel (RTC) Coalition that had successfully advocated for passage of the nation‘s first RTC legislation.  Later that year, ICC proposed a Right to Counsel Ordinance to the Mayor, who said that the City had also learned of it and was interested.  At about the same time, as Co-Chair of Governor Murphy’s Housing Transition Committee, ICC’s Executive Director was able to include a strong recommendation that the State fund a pilot RTC program in Newark.  With these converging interests and opportunities, ICC drafted an RTC ordinance modeled on NYC’s and organized partners in an informal coalition to persuade and work with the City towards its passage.  Once again, the Mayor embraced this effort and an ICC-led City-advocates working group was able to agree upon a proposed ordinance (again closely resembling the ICC draft) that was passed by the City Counsel.  The next step is a funding allocation and implementation.

Dec. 24, 2018: City Council Moves Ahead With Plan to Give Evicted Residents Free Legal Services.

Terrell Homes – A few years ago, ICC celebrated the opening of Riverfront Park.  In the planning stages of the park, as Co-Chair of the County’s planning team, ICC arranged for a planning session to be held at Terrell Homes, specifically to not only get input from residents but also to send a clear message that this new park (a) would be adjacent to Terrell Homes and (b) that the primarily black and brown Terrell community would be fully welcome into Riverfront – as if that needed to be stated.  An opening into the Park from Terrell was planned and constructed to drive the message home.  Terrell residents attended the opening ceremony, and a short time after the Park opening the Newark Housing Authority callously announced in a letter to residents that Terrell was to be demolished and NHA already chose where residents would be going to.  On the face of it, it seemed to say the exact opposite of the ICC messaging: NHA appeared to be saying that the Terrell community was not a part of Ironbound’s future and would not be a beneficiary of a new Riverfront Park.  In brief, residents sought ICC’s assistance and, together, ICC and residents reconstituted a long dormant Tenants Association, organized many allies, and stopped this eviction and demolition notice.  Today, residents and ICC are at the table with NHA planning on a revitalized Terrell community.

Oct. 12, 2017: “Gentrification at its worst”: Residents, advocacy groups fight to save Terrell Homes.

Sept. 14, 2018: Redevelopment Plan Detailed for Embattled Millard Terrell Homes.

Homes for All Newark – While ICC is community-based, it has a decades-old history of working across the City to build coalitions for just community development.  Although today ICC does much of this work through the Newark Community Development Network, our grass roots work with people across the city led to the organization of Homes for All Newark, initiated in meetings at ICC.  When the City Council voted to weaken Rent Control, Home for All rewrote the Ordinance, acquired the needed number of signatures, and forced and won a referendum, leading to an even stronger ordinance.  ICC is proud of our role in helping to incubate and continuing our participation in Homes for All Newark.

OFFICE LOCATION:   317 Elm Street Newark, NJ 07105
For more information contact us at 973.817.7013.