"Invest Newark" program aims to revitalize abandoned homes for new ownership

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A new program has made it its mission to revitalize old, abandoned homes in Newark so that it can be sold to residents within the community.

If you've ever stopped to look closely at nearly century old homes, remnants of their past splendor can grab your eye.

In Newark, the city is helping revive old, abandoned homes for new homeownership.

"Newark was ready. We are the first Land Bank in the entire state of New Jersey launching today. It gives us an opportunity to attack blight," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.

Newark Land Bank has been acquiring these homes, and under its "Invest Newark" program, will be getting them ready for affordable housing sales -- not to rent, but to buy, with one program available for Newark residents only.

"Newarkers feel like with the growth and resurgence in Newark, they are not left out of opportunities to purchase a property in their neighborhoods they grew up in," said Annette Muhammad, SVP of Land Bank operations.

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Newark councilwoman Mildred Crump says they have been waiting for a project that meets the needs of their community.

The startup of the program is already benefiting re-investment in Newark.

The city has hired a minority and woman-owned city-based business to get many of the properties cleaned up and ready for sale.

"A lot of times you see contractors come from out of the city, out of the state to do work. But to be a part of something so historic in the city is really amazing," said Karima Jackson of Exquisite Property Services.

The process of going from renting to owning creates a stable community.

"Absolutely. I was born and raised in Newark myself, I was able to take advantage of a first time home buyer program -- something through a non-profit that allowed me to become a first time home buyer, I still have my house building generational wealth," Muhammad said.

The state started up these Land Bank programs across New Jersey.

Invest Newark has already received hundreds of applications.

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