The shelter targets the homeless population around Newark Penn Station, the public library, and several surrounding parks, but Mayor Ras Baraka says anybody who needs a bed and a meal, are welcome to stop by to get warm.
“We have to provide shelter but also give services so we can help them march their way into society. It’s one thing to give people fish, it’s another thing to teach them how to fish. That’s what we are trying to do here. Give them the opportunity and provide a shelter that is not like the other shelters that exist.
It's quite spacious, with a capacity for 100 homeless each night. Guests are fed breakfast or dinner, offered the opportunity to shower, and given a bed with fresh linen to sleep overnight. Simone Yarrell, the shelter’s operations director, says they aren’t turning anybody away.
The city is prioritizing outreach with people on the streets engaging the homeless. Mark Wade from the Newark Health and Community Wellness Department says they are connecting shelter guests with case management services.
“We have an assessment and we make referrals for them for the other social service needs that they have. For example, if they have a drug problem we refer them to Integrity House. This is another part of a whole network, a team, that deals with the issues the homeless have.”
The shelter is open from now until March of next year. Wade says the shelter could operate year-round with the right community partners.
“This as well as further sheltering opportunities is going to require more than the finite capacity of a Health Department and a city. We really need the private funding partners to step up. Those who say, ‘what are you going to do about the homeless at Newark Penn Station, or at the park.’ Now we are doing something but we can’t maintain it without further funding. We really need our partners who are just as involved as we are in trying to address the need. To put their dollars where their questions have been for so many years.”
The shelter is located at 224 Sussex Avenue in the city’s Central Ward.