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Queen Latifah goes to her hometown of Newark, NJ to build affordable housing

Queen Latifah returned to her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, to help neighbors build affordable housing.

According to, the actress, TV personality, and rapper stated Tuesday at the groundbreaking ceremony, "I'm a little bit emotional that we got walls up, we have windows." BlueSugar Corporation, of whom Latifah is a co-president, is behind the townhouse development, which also includes Life Assets Development and GonSosa Development as partners. The 76-unit building will be a mixed-use development with 20 three-family townhomes with market-rate rents of $1,800 per month.

According to sources, in 2006, Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens, started exploring into real estate development in her hometown of Brick City.

The project was launched a decade later, however it ran into some difficulties.

"It took a long time, but we stuck with it, and it changed, and it morphed, and we stuck with what we needed to do, and the timing is right for this place to rise right now," she added, alluding to the project's moniker, RISE Living. The moniker, which stands for "Rita is Still Everywhere," is a tribute to her late mother, Rita Owens, who died of heart failure in 2018. Owens was a Newark schoolteacher.

"I grew up around here, a block away, playing in West Side Park," Latifah told the gathering. "My grandfather's hardware store was just a few blocks away." I drove by this intersection.

On this block, I noticed what was needed: houses that weren't occupied. Some were seriously deteriorated, so I reasoned, "Why not here?"

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