Newark converting old elementary school into homeless center

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Officials in Newark launched a construction project Thursday to convert an old elementary school into an emergency facility for the homeless.

Mayor Ras Baraka, Claremont Development, and Arc Building Partners announced the adaptive-reuse project designed to create an innovative transitional facility at the 47-63 Miller Street site, formerly Miller Street Elementary School.

The 24,000-square-foot facility will provide 24/7, 365 days a year emergency shelter and supportive services to transition homeless Newark residents into housing.

The facility is expected to open in September of this year.

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The project is intended to offer various human-centered services and pathways toward permanent housing, income stability, and personal health responsibility.

Catholic Charities currently operates the site and offers an array of emotional, behavioral, and health support services.

"This project is yet another positive milestone in our ongoing community-wide efforts to address and eradicate homelessness and provide critical, low-barrier, transitional support services to the most vulnerable among us," Baraka said. "I'd like to thank the many project partners that have made this project a reality and look forward to watching the upcoming construction take shape and service-model realized."

The Miller Street Elementary School structure was built in the early-1900s and underwent a series of expansions in the 1950s to substantially expand the building's overall footprint.

The elementary school officially closed in 2012 and was acquired by the development team in 2017.

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As part of Newark's focus on homelessness and community health, Claremont Development has worked in conjunction with the City and Catholic Charities for roughly five years to develop the structure re-use plan.

Expected service offerings at the Miller Street Pathways to Housing Center will include, but are not limited to: transportation, individual counseling and case management, behavioral health services, social services, nutrition services, and a daily "drop in" center for individuals to bathe or shower, do laundry, and have meals prepared for them. As such, a full commercial kitchen for the on-site food preparation will be created, as well as food preparation and service trainings, and meal production for both those in shelter residence and the greater community.

The new facility will comprise a total of 166 transitional beds for men, women, and families, with 84 men's and a men's activity room, 44 women's beds and a women's activity room, 21 "code blue" beds, and seven individual suites with a total of 17 beds for families, quarantine, and isolation. The daily "drop in" facility will feature the individual bathrooms (showers, bathing, and changing facilities), washers and dryers, and tables, chairs, and televisions.

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