How to Open a Homeless Shelter in Newark, New Jersey

by Ronald Kimmons ; Updated September 26, 2017

To open a homeless shelter in Newark, New Jersey, you must obtain a license from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Bureau of Rooming and Boarding House Standards. The bureau implements and enforces the licensure and inspection of emergency shelters for the homeless. The basic criteria for license issuance are your compliance with the physical safety standards of your facility and your promotion of the social well-being of your occupants.

Determine the organization or business structure under which your homeless shelter will operate. This may be a corporation, a partnership or an association. You may also file an application for tax-exempt status for your homeless shelter. File your registration with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury by visiting its website, clicking “Getting Registered” and following the instructions. File a Trade Name Certificate with the Essex County Clerk’s Office. You may do this by downloading a trade name request form at its website and following the instructions.

Choose a location for your homeless shelter. Take into account the safety of the residents. The type of building you choose must be adequate to fit all the residents you plan to accommodate, and must have all necessary safety measures, such as emergency exits and fire sprinklers. You can choose to use a structure you own, or one your organization can purchase or rent. If you choose a land and structure that you own, or if you are constructing residential dwellings on your land, you must obtain zoning approval.

Obtain local zoning approval from Newark’s Central Planning Board. Zoning approval is a requirement for obtaining your homeless shelter license. Newark’s Land Use Element of the City Master Plan is accessible on the city's website. On the right column of said website, click “Newark Master Plan.” The Zoning Map is available for sale for $14.75 at the city clerk’s office. Before commencing any work on your designated property for the homeless shelter, check with the Division of City Planning to determine whether your property falls within historic district boundaries, or if it is listed individually.

Obtain your license from the Bureau of Rooming and Boarding House Standards by calling 609-633-6251 or 609-984-1706. The bureau issues five classes of licenses. Class A is for rooming houses only. Class B is for rooming and boarding houses that do not provide financial or personal services, except food and laundry. Class C is for rooming and boarding houses. Class D is for facilities operating under contract with a state agency. Class E is for alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities that nonprofit religious organizations operate. License issuance depends on your compliance with fire safety codes and payment of appropriate fees.

Pay all required fees. Fees depend on license class, the number of residents you intend to house, and your organization’s business structure. The Class A license costs $320; the Class B costs $360; the Class C or D costs $400, and the Class E costs $300. Any license -- except for Class E -- issued to a corporation, partnership or association costs $600. Additional fees that depend on the number of your residents, unless you have a Class E license, are as follows: $50 for shelters with six to 10 residents; $100 for those with 11 to 15 residents; $140 for those with 16 to 30 residents and $200 for those with 31 or more residents. The total fees should not exceed $600. Your fees are payable annually, and your license is renewable annually.

Hire employees who have the proper training. Your shelter operator must have a basic boarding home training certificate, and all of your employees who will be in direct contact with occupants must complete a home health aide course and a five-day course conducted by a registered nurse or other bureau-approved professional. State agencies must approve these courses.

About the Author

Ronald Kimmons has been a professional writer and translator since 2006, with writings appearing in publications such as "Chinese Literature Today." He studied at Brigham Young University as an undergraduate, getting a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese.

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