Actress, hip-hop icon, and entrepreneur Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens has gone back to her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, to build affordable housing.
On April 26, Queen Latifah joined Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at a groundbreaking ceremony for Rise Living, a 76-unit housing development.
Rise Living will transform several properties along 19th Avenue, South 16th Street, and South 17th Street into modern housing and mixed-use spaces, ABC 7 reported.
Queen Latifah — net worth: $70 million — is co-president of Blue Sugar Corporation, a real estate development firm that has partnered with two other firms, Life Assets Development and Gonsosa, to collaborate on the development.
Rise is an acronym for “Rita is Still Everything,” a tribute to Queen Latifah’s late mother, Rita Owens, a former schoolteacher in Newark.
“Newark is ours, it’s yours, and I don’t want people to think they can’t live in their own communities,” Mayor Baraka said at the event.
Sixteen of the 76 units will be classified as affordable housing, officials said. Market-rate rents are set to start at $1,800 per month, ABC 7 reported.
Fair market 2022 rent prices in Newark range from $1,017 for a studio apartment and $1,223 for a one-bedroom to $1,887 for a three-bedroom, according to Rentdata.org. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines housing as affordable if it costs less than one-third of a household’s monthly income.
“I drove past this block; I saw what was needed,” Queen Latifah said. “I saw houses they weren’t lived in … some were dilapidated. I thought, why not here.”
“I’m a little bit emotional that we got walls up, we got windows,” Latifah said.
Latifah began investing in real estate in 2006. The current project has been in the works since 2016, The Source reported.
“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 said.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?
“I grew up around here playing in West Side Park, a block away,” Latifah reminisced. “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?’”
The buildings will include a fitness center, business center, charging stations for electric vehicles, and ground floor parking spaces. The housing will include touchless entry, free Wi-Fi in all common areas, online portals for maintenance and rent payments, washers and dryers in units, hardwood floors, green roofs in selected units, air conditioning, and stainless steel appliances, ABC 7 reported.
The development will also include 1,900-square-foot ground floor space for nonprofit organizations.
Photo: Queen Latifah watches an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, Feb. 28, 2020, in L.A. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)