Asset Building Coalition to Relaunch in the City of Newark

Yusef Ismail, Director of Financial Inclusion at the United Way of Essex & West Hudson, writes in

Despite this positive progress, it is also a very difficult time for a majority of Newark's residents who are punctuated by fears that the city's renaissance could push them out. Now, Newark is wrestling with a challenge faced by plenty of reviving urban hubs before it: An increase of development is taking place disproportionately, therefore, widening the disparity between the places where glittering new towers are rising and the portions of the city where opportunity has yet to take place.

A recent report by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice found that there is widening economic disparity between most of the city's residents and the large corporate workforce that commutes in and out of Newark every day. According to the report:

  • About one-in-three local residents live below the federal poverty line, and 95 percent of these residents living in poverty did not have a full-time job during the past year.
  • Newark residents hold only 18 percent of all jobs in the city.
  • Newark's average unemployment rate for 2015 was 8.8 percent, which is approximately 70 percent higher than the 2015 average unemployment rate for the U.S.
  • 62 percent of Newark households qualify as "ALICE," meaning that they are asset-limited, income-constrained, and employed.


These crucial issues have prompted Mayor Ras J. Baraka and other key city stakeholders to begin to focus their efforts on working to encourage larger companies in the city to hire residents and buy from local businesses, extend development beyond downtown to the rest of the city's five wards and persuade people who work in the city to move here. The centerpiece of the effort is a job program, Newark 2020, which aims to have approximately 2,000 unemployed residents working full time and earning a living wage by the year 2020.

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