Award-winning rapper Queen Latifah returned to her hometown recently to break ground on a new multi-use housing complex that will provide a total of 76 quality living apartments, 20 of which will be classified as affordable housing for local families.
Queen Latifah attends groundbreaking in Newark
On Tuesday 26 April, Queen Latifah revisited her birthplace of Newark, New Jersey, for a South Ward real estate development groundbreaking ceremony spearheaded by BlueSugar Corp., of which Latifah is co-president, alongside builders Life Assets Development and GonSosa Development.
Dressed in a lime green button-down shirt, matching slacks and loafers — and a hard hat — Queen Latifah gripped a shovel and tossed dirt into a garden box of soil, smiling,
“I’m a little bit emotional that we got walls up, we got windows,” the rapper and actress said, standing in front of three-story plywood-skinned structures that will soon become townhouses. — NorthJersey.com
The project has been years in the making!
Rapper, actress, singer-songwriter, film producer and talk show host, Dana Elaine Owens, known professionally as Queen Latifah, officially broke ground on her affordable housing complex in Newark, New Jersey, NorthJersey.com reporlted last month.
Entertainment mogul Queen Latifah said she first began looking to invest in properties in 2006, finally deciding on building a massive development project in her hometown that she announced to the public in 2016. In 2019, details about the $14 million affordable housing complex were released, Latifah spearheading it under her BlueSugar Corporation, in partnership with GonSosa Development and Life Assets Development.
“I’m a little bit emotional that we got walls up, we got windows… It took a while, but we stayed with it and it changed and it morphed, and we stayed with what we needed to do, and the timing is right right now for this place to rise,” Latifah told reporters.
The RISE Living complex, an acronym for “Rita is Still Everywhere” which is a tribute to her late mother, is located along Springfield Avenue, just outside of the downtown area. It is a 76-unit mixed-use project that will house 20 three-family townhomes, 16 affordable housing units for those earning less than 80% of the city’s median income, 1,900 square feet designated for use by community nonprofits, a fitness center, business center, and electric vehicle charging stations.
Latifah’s project is the first in a long line of projects needed to solve the current crisis.
During the ceremony, joined by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, Latifah spoke about her motivations for the project, saying, “I’m proud to be from here… I grew up around here playing in West Side Park, a block away. My grandfather’s hardware store was blocks from here. I drove past this block. I saw what was needed on this block, houses that weren’t lived in. Some were really dilapidated, and so I thought, ‘Why not here?,’”Latifah explained.
The city of Newark is in great need of affordable housing, an additional 16,000 low-rent units desperately needed to meet the city’s demand. According to a 2021 study by the Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity, almost 60% of Newark renters spend more than a third of their incomes on housing, qualifying them as “cost-burdened.”
The average cost for an affordable housing unit in Newark is about $763 a month, which is $330 less than the city’s average market rent and $600 less than what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development constitutes as fair market rent. Couple that with the 19,000 facing post-COVID evictions, the majority of them in Newark, and you have a recipe for disaster. Latifah’s project is the first in a long line of projects needed to solve the current crisis.
The units are expected to open for pre-leasing this July, with the townhomes projected to be completed between September and December, the entire structure planned to be finished in 2023. To join the Rise Living waiting list, visit their website here.
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