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NEWARK-As has been the case in numerous cities around the country, New Jersey’s largest city has been razing old and decaying high-rise housing projects, replacing them with what it considers more family-friendly town home and garden apartment residences. The Newark Coalition for Low Income Housing, however, charges that the Newark Housing Authority isn’t replacing them fast enough.

The advocacy group, which is made up of public housing tenants, labor unions and various community groups, has filed papers in Federal District Court here to have the Newark Housing Authority removed from oversight of the replacement process, to be replaced by Abt Associates of Cambridge, MA. Abt is a housing consultant appointed by the court in 1998 to monitor the Housing Authority’s progress.

Specifically, the Coalition charges that the Authority is way behind schedule. Group spokesman David Weiner told local reporters that the Authority has produced only a little over 50% of the housing they agreed to create in an agreement signed 11 years ago. Housing Authority director Robert Graham disagrees with those numbers, asserting that with projects scheduled to begin construction soon, the Authority will reach the 85% level.

Altogether, the Authority owns 8,000 apartments and is under a Federal court consent decree to provide 1,777 new public housing units to replace those lost in the series of demolitions that have occurred over the last decade. The Coalition’s petition’s hearing is expected this week.

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