U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development
Consolidated Plan Contact
Essex County, New Jersey, consists of 22 municipalities including the city of Newark.
Eighteen of those municipalities joined the county to prepare this Consolidated Plan. The
county, located west of New York City in northeast New Jersey, is a major industrial and
Infrastructure improvements, the development of affordable housing, and social service
programs dominate the planned use of $8.3 million in Community Development Block Grant
(CDBG) program funds, $1 million in HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) program funds,
and $271,000 in Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program funds. Most projects will be
implemented in individual municipalities in Essex County.
The Essex County Division of Housing and Community Development was the lead agency
for development of the Consolidated Plan in cooperation with the Essex County Community
Development Representatives Committee. The Representatives Committee consists of 2
members each from the 18 participating municipalities. A Consolidated Plan Review
Committee was formed through the Representatives Committee to guide several topical
subcommittees in preparation of portions of the plan. Each participating municipality was
required to hold two public hearings about the plan.
In addition to municipal participation, several nonprofit and community development groups
participated in the development of the plan. These groups included the Tenant Resource
Center, Essex County Division on Aging, Montclair Redevelopment Agency, West Essex
Rehab Center, Essex County Division of Community Action, YMCA of Montclair, and
several additional Essex County agencies, such as the Comprehensive Emergency
Assistance System, Planning and Economic Development Division, and Employment Training
The Star-Ledger published a public notice announcing a countywide public hearing
scheduled for March 30, 1995. Posters and flyers were placed in public buildings to
encourage citizen participation. Letters of invitation to attend countywide hearings were
sent to the community development representatives, mayors, directors of social service
agencies, and emergency shelter representatives of each participating municipality. Citizen
reaction was solicited in the form of written comments, interviews, surveys, and
questionnaires. Technical assistance was available to organizations interested in submitting
applications for funding.
Since its settlement, Essex County has been the industrial and financial center of New
Jersey. Today it is ranked among the top 10 counties nationally in population as well as in
volume and variety of industrial and business activities, yet Newark (in Essex County, but
not a participant in this plan) is one of the five poorest cities nationwide.
Technological advances have eliminated many manufacturing jobs and reduced labor-force
needs, leaving a significant number of underemployed laborers. The aftermath in urban
Essex County has been an erosion of the tax base and a gradual decline in the quality of
life. In addition to the lack of job opportunities, 22 percent of the adult population is
illiterate, further burdening the region's economic future.
Essex County is extensively urbanized with large pockets of poverty. Although only 10
percent of the State's population resides in the county, it includes a disproportionately high
percentage of New Jersey's poor. The county is home to nearly one-fourth of the State's
welfare population, families living in poverty, and persons receiving food stamps. In
addition, 14 percent of the population can be classified as working poor.
By 1990 the population of the area included in this plan (323,345) had declined by 11,539
persons (or 3.4 percent) in a 10-year period. Whites constituted 78 percent of the
population, a decline of 14 percent as a proportion of the total population. African
Americans constituted 13 percent, Hispanics and Asian Americans each constituted about 4
percent, and other minorities constituted 0.2 percent of the population. Although most
minorities are located in urban areas, such as Montclair, Orange, West Orange, and
Belleville, they are not concentrated disproportionately in particular neighborhoods.
Median family income (MFI) in Essex County is $45,800. Almost one-third of the 119,088
households have low- or moderate-income levels. These include:
- Extremely low income (0 to 30 percent of MFI) -- 11,276 (9.5 percent).
- Very low income (31 to 50 percent of MFI) -- 9,036 (7.6 percent).
- Other low income (51 to 80 percent of MFI) -- 9,374 (7.9 percent).
- Moderate income (81 to 95 percent of MFI) -- 8,224 (6.9 percent).
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT NEEDS
Statistics about housing conditions are not readily available, but an estimated 6 percent of
all renter units are in need of rehabilitation and an estimated 5 percent of vacant rental
units are substandard. Conversely, only 1.5 percent of all owner units are substandard.
Affordability has been identified as the major housing problem, especially for low- and very
low-income renter households. Essex County has a large homeless population that is partly
a result of the lack of public and affordable housing in the area. Moreover, much new
housing construction is designed for moderate- and high-income households.
For potential homebuyers the greatest obstacle to homeownership is the lack of money for
a downpayment. Another barrier is the lack of qualifications to obtain a mortgage with a
conventional lending institution.
Elderly families compose 28 percent of all renters and 26 percent of all homeowners in
Essex County. Elderly homeowners often need housing rehabilitation assistance. This need
is illustrated by the fact that 65 percent of the clients served by the Home Improvement
Program are elderly. Most municipalities have indicated a large deficiency of affordable
rental housing for the elderly who endure long waiting lists for acceptance in senior assisted
Housing Market Conditions
There are 123,652 year-round housing units in Essex County. Of the 119,359 occupied
units, two-thirds are owner-occupied. The majority of owner-occupied units are located in
suburban areas. Conversely, most rental units are located in the more urbanized areas. At
68 percent, the City of Orange Township has the highest percentage of renters. The
average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $700.
Between 1980 and 1990, there was a net increase of 1,898 single-family and multifamily
housing units. A large number, 16 percent, of housing units have nine or more rooms.
Single-family units now constitute 63 percent of available housing, 94 percent of which is
owner occupied. Only 22 percent of the units in multifamily structures are owner occupied.
Affordable Housing Needs
Almost one-third of all renters in Essex County have low or very low incomes. Thirty
percent of all very low- and low-income households are small renter families. An additional 8
percent are low- and very low-income large families. Of the 6,959 elderly renters, 84
percent are very low-income households. Because the average monthly rent even for a one-bedroom unit is $700, rental cost burden is a major problem.
According to the 1990 census, there were 3,311 homeless persons in Essex County,
including 2,412 persons in emergency shelters and 899 individuals in street locations. Other
sources estimate higher numbers. The homeless population was primarily concentrated in
the cities of Newark, East Orange, Orange, and Irvington. Of these cities, only Orange is
included in this Consolidated Plan.
The transient nature of the homeless population and the small physical area of the county
mean that all parts of it are affected. A total of only 700 shelter beds are available to serve
the homeless. The need is estimated to be 1,450 to 2,200 beds daily, demonstrating a
tragically underserved homeless population.
A statewide study reported that 64 percent of those individuals in county homeless shelters
are African American or Hispanic, and 82 percent of those utilizing meal sites are minorities.
Seven percent of the county's very low-income persons are white and 22 percent are
African Americans. In 1994, 739 youth (17 and under) in Essex County were homeless.
Although the number of people at risk of becoming homeless is unknown, indicators of risk
are known. They include the following:
Special needs populations are also vulnerable. A 1993 study of the homeless population
estimates that 12 percent of the total homeless population had lost their homes due to
alcohol or drug problems. The number of homeless persons with HIV/AIDS is also
increasing; recent estimates indicate that 30 percent of all homeless persons are HIV
- Families living below the poverty line -- currently, 150,123 families.
- Persons released from adult penal institutions -- in 1990, 4,747 persons.
- Persons released from adult mental hospitals -- in 1990, 4,378 persons.
- Persons who applied for or received unemployment benefits -- in 1989, 20,550
- Court filed eviction cases -- in 1 year, 47,000 cases.
For preparation of this plan, 58 government, nonprofit, and religious agencies concerned
with the homeless were surveyed to determine their needs. Additional transitional housing
is needed in Essex County. Only 132 transitional housing units are available, and there is a
long waiting list for acceptance in them. Homeless providers in Essex County may need to
refine their roles to build a continuum of care. The Essex County Comprehensive Homeless
Services Network is the primary entity to coordinate homeless providers and case
management services. Additional special needs include community showers, child care, drug
and alcohol treatment programs, and assistance for persons with HIV/AIDS.
Public and Assisted Housing Needs
The City of Orange Public Housing Authority (PHA), the only PHA within the 18
participating municipalities, has 529 units, and an additional 1,882 units are subsidized
through the Section 8 program. Of the subsidized units, 12 percent are for the elderly, 48
percent are for small families, and 40 percent are for large families. The waiting list for
Section 8 housing numbers 8,168 persons. Several municipalities have also completed
Section 202 projects for the elderly.
Barriers to Affordable Housing
Several public policies affect the provision of affordable housing. Ten of the 18
communities throughout the county have rent control programs. Ever-increasing property
taxes add to housing costs. Several communities do not permit multifamily housing.
Therefore, their rental market consists of only single-family homes, which have higher rents.
Since Essex County consists of a diverse assortment of urban and suburban communities, a
uniform approach cannot be used to develop affordable housing.
Given the age of most housing units in the county, especially in areas that require
rehabilitation, the county projects that approximately 5 to 10 percent of all units will require
lead-based paint inspections. The actual number of cases is extremely difficult to predict,
but corrective action will be taken to eliminate the hazard where it is found.
Community Development Needs
The Nonhousing Community Development, Infrastructure, and Social Service
Subcommittees have identified public facilities and improvements, social services, and
economic development as nonhousing needs.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Four components constitute the Essex County affordable housing strategy:
In addition, the following housing priorities precipitate related to a continuum of care for
- Expanding the supply of affordable housing to low- and moderate-income households.
New construction will be directed to first-time homebuyers (40 units), senior citizens (200
units), and low-density rentals (25 units). Rehabilitation of existing substandard vacant
structures will be directed to first-time homebuyers (40 units), low-density rentals (75
units), and high-density rentals (125 units).
- Maintaining the existing supply of affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income households through rehabilitation programs for owners (200 units) and renters (120
low-density units and 125 high-density units).
- Providing rental assistance to low- and very low-income households through Section 8
(3,040 units, including turnovers).
- Increasing housing opportunities through support services for first-time homebuyers,
such as downpayment and mortgage write-downs and rehabilitation financing.
The county also plans to strengthen the continuum-of-care approach through the Essex
County Tenant Resource Center and through the existing network known as the
Comprehensive Emergency Assistance System Committee. This committee will serve as the
primary entity to coordinate services and allocate funds countywide.
- Increasing the supply of transitional housing (20 units) through financial and technical
assistance to developers and the existing network of providers.
- Maintaining an effective emergency shelter system to meet the temporary needs of the
county's homeless through expansion and renovation of existing facilities and rehabilitation
(300 shelter beds).
Nonhousing Community Development Priorities
Economic development priorities focus on providing economic opportunities for low- and
very low-income persons by job creation, improved business districts, and programs to
assist microenterprises. Nonhousing community development needs and priorities were
developed by the corresponding subcommittees. Three priorities for public facilities are as
Priorities for social services are to maintain the existing level of support services for low-
and very low-income persons, and to increase services to them. To have a cohesive system
to meet widely diverse needs, a social service advisory committee will be formed to analyze
needs, trends, and alternative funding sources.
- Improvement in the infrastructure in low- and very low-income neighborhoods.
- Improvement in existing public facilities serving low- and very low-income
- Increase in public facility space for use by low- and very low-income persons.
About 14 percent of the county population have incomes below the poverty level, including
7 percent of whites, 22 percent of African Americans, and 26 percent of Hispanics. Essex
County will address poverty through the combined efforts of Federal, State, county, local,
and private agencies that provide relief to low- and very low-income populations. A
comprehensive support system will be implemented through cooperation among providers.
In the coming year, additional research will be conducted on the needs and the delivery
system before designing a more comprehensive antipoverty strategy.
Housing and Community Development Resources
Resources to fund activities will come from public and private sources. In addition to
Federal CDBG, HOME, and ESG funding, Essex County plans to use other Federal and State
programs, such as the Neighborhood Preservation Balanced Housing Program, the Housing
Inspection Grant Program, and local tax credits. Essex County is facing large current and
projected budget deficits, which limit its ability to carry out additional activities. Private
resources include developer financing, bank initiatives under Community Reinvestment Act
programs, and fundraising by nonprofit organizations.
Coordination of the Strategic Plan
The Division of Housing and Community Development coordinated the development of the
Consolidated Plan with collaboration from local government representatives and nonprofit
agencies. The division is charged with the implementation of this Consolidated Plan and will
coordinate with other county departments, municipalities, and private nonprofit agencies in
the implementation of activities. Coordination of homeless services will involve collaboration
with a range of nonprofit agencies, such as the Salvation Army, Apostles' House, and
Interfaith Hospitality Network, as well as the Comprehensive Emergency Assistance System
Committee and the Essex County Tenant Resource Center.
ONE-YEAR ACTION PLAN
Description of Key Projects
To achieve its goals, Essex County plans to use $7,589,000 in CDBG funds, $1,010,000 in
HOME funds, and $271,000 in ESG funds during the first year of the plan. Abstracted
overviews of some key projects proposed in participating municipalities are as follows:
Township of Belleville -- Eleven proposed projects include the Schuyler Street
reconstruction project ($70,000), North Valley water main cleaning and relining ($155,000),
Kimball Street sewer replacements ($71,500), the BASE Teen Intervention Pilot Program for
at-risk youth who are referred to the juvenile justice system ($20,000), and renovation and
accessibility improvements to a public building ($500,000).
Township of Caldwell -- Cleveland Street water main improvements ($120,895).
Township of Cedar Grove -- Two proposed projects include Ridgewood Acres
street improvements ($160,650), a barrier-free playground ($20,000), Park Avenue and
Horseneck Road reconstruction ($150,000), and the rehabilitation of Glen Ridge Transit
Station as a new Senior Citizen Community Center ($75,000). One million dollars is also
being set aside to fund a revolving loan program for home improvements for low- and
moderate-income homeowners countywide, and another $100,000 is proposed for a crime
Township of Livingston -- Four CDBG projects include installation of an elevator
at the West Essex YMCA ($67,000) and construction of a playground at the Children's
Institute ($38,000). Several HOME-funded projects include $62,660 for the ARC Group
Home and $82,500 for a first-time homebuyers' program.
Township of Maplewood -- Three CDBG projects include reconstruction of Laurel
Avenue ($125,900), construction of a barrier-free playground at Maplecrest Park ($90,750),
and the reconstruction of Lee Court ($29,575).
Township of Millburn -- Two projects include purchase of a bus for senior
citizens and barrier-free improvements to the library ($109,325).
Township of Montclair -- Montclair proposes 19 CDBG and ESG projects,
including $30,000 to operate a food bank, $54,000 for COPE Center counseling services,
$115,000 to improve the Maple Plaza parking lot, $170,000 for improvements to Lincoln
Street, and $75,000 for facade improvement matching grants to small business owners.
The Salvation Army is projected to receive $30,000 to provide housing counseling for
homeless families and $30,000 for shelter rehabilitation.
Township of Nutley -- Most of the 10 CDBG projects propose street
City of Orange Township -- Most of the 16 projects propose street and public
facilities improvements; also included are several social service projects, such as $15,000
for the Caring and Sharing Program for seniors, $110,000 for the Occupational Center of
New Jersey, $200,000 for the Verona Senior Citizen Community Center, $85,000 for the
Family Service and Child Guidance Center, and $12,000 for the Interfaith Hospitality
Network for shelter and supportive services for the homeless.
City of Newark -- ESG funds will go to several emergency shelters and homeless
providers, including American Rescue Workers ($30,000), Newark YMCA/YWCA ($86,300),
and the Apostles' House ($72,000). A citywide rental rehabilitation program for the
development of affordable housing will receive $772,300.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income
areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income
areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts
points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income
areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four
neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income
areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four
neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income
areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level
vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).
To comment on Essex County's Consolidated Plan, please contact Jeff Bertrand, Housing
and Community Development Director, at 201-509-9887.
Return to New Jersey's Consolidated Plans.