Newark requires permits for groups that give free food to homeless people. Such efforts, according to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, are intended to ensure food safety while also dispersing homeless people from the area around Newark Penn Station.
Why does Newark want to make it harder for churches and other volunteer groups to give food to homeless people? According to a 2021 survey, 1,274 homeless people lived in Newark, which has a total population of 311,000.
While homeless people live throughout the downtown area, the focus of this recent effort is Newark Penn Station and Peter Francisco Park, a small green space across the street from the train station. Why does this matter? Because both locations are claimed as entry points to the neighborhood known as the Ironbound, where Portuguese immigrants settled decades ago and now live next door to recent immigrants from Latin America and transplants pushed out of New York City by rising real estate costs.