Mayors, City Officials, and United Way of Greater Union County Join in Effort to Build Social Justice Complex

Solving Problems and Effecting Change at Forefront of UWGUC Collective Impact Initiatives
 
On July 30, 2014, Mayor Richard J. Gerbounka of the City of Linden and Mayor Jamel Holley of Roselle Borough, were joined by James W. Horne, Jr., President/CEO, United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC), and architects, planners, and key community stakeholders to present to residents the Linden & Roselle Redevelopment Plan to build a new Social Justice Complex.

To be an effective change agent for the communities we serve, UWGUC has continued to engage in a Collective Impact Model in which we gather key stakeholders within communities to help solve its most critical social issues.  This collaborative effort renders strategies for effective outcomes and clearly municipal officials are some of the most critical stakeholders to be involved in the planning process.  Subsequently, the plan to develop a new Social Justice Complex was born out of the idea that working together creates opportunities to solve some of the most complex of social issues. 

The goal of the planners is to create a better delivery system for community safety and revitalization with a focus on health care, childcare, family support services, and employment services.  The complex will include a family success and job center, emergency management offices, police station, municipal courts and court administration, and a recreation center. 
 
Grounded in its firm belief that to transform a community it must improve the lives of its families, the UWGUC role is to consult on best practices to operate the Family Success Center and Job Opportunity Center, to be located inside the Social Justice Complex.
 
The redevelopment plan is focused on a property currently surrounded by neighborhoods that have high unemployment and crime rates. The property is located on St. George's Avenue (NJ State Route 27), which is a commercial arterial roadway with high visibility and high vacancy rates. The new Social Justice Complex will house Linden and Roselle Community Courts, a Job Opportunity Center, Linden Police Department, Family Support Center, Trinitas Community Health Care, and Linden and Roselle Emergency Management Facilities. The UWGUC has advocated and endorsed the development of a Family Success and Job Center on the site.  In addition, the Complex is set to include private investors such as a pharmacy, restaurants, retail businesses and residential space.

 

“Based upon our own community needs assessment, we know that kids are staying home with their parents until early adulthood and residents are moving in from other areas for safety, schools, quality of life, and employment.  We must meet those needs. And for us at United Way, it is critical that we serve as a voice to those families most in need and help provide officials with all the necessary information to make informed decisions about how best to serve these families and community residents.  We are excited about this work and United Way’s role in the process,” states James W. Horne, Jr., President/CEO of United Way of Greater Union County.

 

There is also a proposed urgent care facility sponsored by a regional medical center included in this plan. The current municipal courts are in improvised facilities and require significant upgrades to meet current security and operational standards. In addition, the Linden Police Department is in an overcrowded space that does not meet current security or operational standards.

 

The vision for the new Social Justice Complex is that it will act as a catalyst to transform the surrounding communities and the lives of individuals and families that utilize the services provided.  The intent of locating the police, emergency management and municipal courts combined with health care facilities, job placement services and a family support center is to connect justice courts, police and emergency management to the neighborhoods they serve and give the community and public agencies opportunity for restorative interventions.