Sussex Avenue Shelter Reopens for July

The winter shelter at 224 Sussex Ave. in the city's Central Ward opened in December and is slated to closed June 30. Credits: Elana Knopp

NEWARK, NJ - The temporary homeless shelter on Sussex Avenue has reopened for at least the month of July following outcry after it closed earlier this week, the city announced.

The city received a commitment of funds for the shelter from multiple, unspecified corporate sponsors. The sponsors will be announced at a press conference next week, according to a  press release.

City spokesman Frank Baraff declined to say which companies were funding the shelter.

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The shelter at 224 Sussex Ave. opened in December last year. The city said it was meant to temporarily house the homeless who frequent Newark Penn Station, the library, Military Park and Peter Francisco Park. 

The Central Ward facility was scheduled to close in March but the city was able to identify funding to keep it open until June. The shelter was opened 24 hours a day and provided services to 290 chronically homeless people this year, according to the city.

Christine Houston, who today was helping the displaced at the park across the street from the shelter, said about 15 people have gone into the facility since it reopened. 

"I'm happy that it's reopening," Houston said. "I'm feeling a little optimistic. I'm not really sure what happens after the 30th." 

Other volunteers have been using social media to get food and water donations for the homeless who were in the park near the shelter during the heatwave this week.

"I don't want to go back to the shelter or anything like that because I'm in a room," said Tamia Smothers today in the park. She was linked up with a boarding room that she said she pays $300 a month for after the shelter closed. 

The city announced on June 25 that it would put out a request for proposal to keep the shelter open from November to March next year.

This was the first city-run temporary emergency shelter, said local Department of Health and Community Wellness Director Mark Wade in a previous statement.

“This was a critical effort to support those in need and save lives,” Wade said in the June 25 announcement.

 About 13 other shelters exist in the city, but are operated by nonprofits that receive federal funds, Baraff said.

 It cost about $200,000 a month to operate the shelter on Sussex Avenue, said Baraff, the city spokesman.

Additional private sponsors are still being sought by the city to house the homeless beyond July, according to a city press release.

The city said it has placed 27 residents who were using the shelter in other temporary housing. Nine were placed in permanent housing with help from the Essex County Continuum of Care.

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