These Newark, New Jersey, Natives Are Giving Back By Building Affordable Housing
Experts say that a lack of affordable housing in the United States is one of the biggest problems that renters and prospective homebuyers face today, and some celebrities are doing their part to help.
In recent years, several prominent celebrities have built affordable housing units, with many focusing their efforts on their hometowns as a way to give back.
Among them are Queen Latifah and Shaquille O'Neal, who are both building housing developments in their hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
Newark, which is home to an estimated 307,220 people, is the largest city in New Jersey. The city has a median household income of $37,476, and about 26% of its residents live in poverty, according to U.S. Census data.
Queen Latifah Builds Desperately Needed Affordable Housing in Newark
Queen Latifah, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in nearby East Orange, recently broke ground on a new housing complex that will include affordable housing units.
The housing project, called RISE Living, will include 16 affordable housing units for those earning less than 80% of the city’s median income.
The project’s name is an acronym for “Rita Is Still Everywhere,” a tribute to the rapper and actress’ mother, Rita, a former Newark teacher who died in 2018.
Newark desperately needs affordable housing. Nearly 60% of the city’s renters spend more than a third of their incomes on housing, and the city needs 16,000 additional low-rent units to meet demand, NorthJersey.com reported.
“I’m proud to be from here,” Latifah said at the April 2022 groundbreaking, according to NorthJersey.com. “I grew up around here playing in West Side Park, a block away.
"My grandfather’s hardware store was blocks from here. I drove past this block. I saw what was needed on this block, houses that weren’t lived in. Some were really dilapidated, and so I thought, 'Why not here?'”
Shaquille O'Neal Is Building ‘Largest 80/20 Mixed-Income Project in New Jersey’
Queen Latifah isn’t the only celebrity who’s building affordable housing in New Jersey’s largest city.
In June, Shaquille O'Neal attended a topping-off ceremony for his new housing development, known as “Shaq Tower 2,” which city officials say is the “largest 80/20 mixed-income project in New Jersey,” Patch reported. The building will have 370 apartments, 20% of which will be classified as “affordable.”
The former professional basketball player reportedly will live in the building’s penthouse apartment. It will have amenities including a roof deck lounge, a gym and outdoor pool, 24/7 concierge service, and 12,000 square feet of retail space for fine restaurants
"Newark has proven to be a City of Opportunity within our State of Opportunity, and with the many upcoming developments in this area, I am proud that the top priority remains for there to be quality affordable housing for the residents who call this city their home," Gov. Phil Murphy said about the project, according to Patch.
Learn More About Affordable Housing in the U.S.
The lack of affordable housing in the United States has shaped the housing market in recent years, making it much more difficult to buy a home, especially for first-time buyers. If you’re looking for more information about this crucial issue, check out these blogs:
It’s hard to be a first-time buyer in this market. We’re exploring what experts say is a major barrier to homeownership: the lack of available “starter homes.”
A lack of affordable housing is the biggest obstacle to buying a home in the United States today, according to a new study from the National Association of REALTORS®.
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