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Urban League of Essex County Aims to Boost Homeownership in Newark

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The League, with public and private funding, is building and renovating two- and three-family homes for low-to-moderate income buyers.

Only about 20% of Newark households are homeowners, and the Urban League of Essex County is trying to boost that number.

The first part of its homeownership project has been finished -- nine homes, six new, three renovated -- and eight have already been sold to first-time homebuyers.

Vivian Fraser of the Urban League of Essex County explained how it works.

“Families can come to our financial opportunity center, go to our housing counseling program, we have HUD-approved housing counselors, we help people get their credit together and then start to do their savings and then become homeowners,” she said.

Phase 2 of the project is starting now, with homes ready by next year, so Fraser said this is the time to contact the League to work with financial counselors and be ready to buy in the spring. Phase 1 prices ranged from about $190,000 to $350,000.

“We’ll be doing 11 homes, they’ll be two- and three-family homes, and our typical buyer is a low- to moderate-income buyer with income in the range of $50,000 to $70,000 for a family of four,” said Fraser.

The project has public and private funding. The cost of the Phase 1 building was almost $4 million.

Fraser said the homes provide housing not just for the owners, who become landlords.

“All of them are designed to be owner-occupied with rental units,” she said, “and the rental units, that’s how families can afford to purchase the homes because they have tenant income.”