Newark, NJ – November 21, 2023 – The New York Giants and Bob’s Discount Furniture teamed up with Invest Newark to surprise a new homeowner with a fully furnished home just in time for the Holidays. On Tuesday, November 21st, a first-time homeowner, Christian Miller, alongside her children, Na’zier Johnson, 8, and Krystalee Miller, 2, received the keys to their new home. Miller purchased her first home through the Newark Land Bank’s Section 8 Homeownership Conversion Program and Newark Mayor Mayor Baraka attended the welcome home party to share his support of the program and congratulate Miller on this milestone moment. The home was filled with all new furnishings Miller selected from Bob’s Discount Furniture during a surprise shopping trip with New York Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke, who also attended the homecoming celebration.
“Something beautiful is happening in Newark. On so many levels, an eyesore blossoms into beauty, insecurity is nudged into confidence and deficit grows into bounty,” said Mayor Baraka. “Today all three are happening right here with the Miller Family, as they move into a repurposed home, furnished especially for them, to serve as their sanctuary, and as their stepping stool to lifetime security. This Thanksgiving, on behalf of all Newarkers, I share my gratitude for the efforts of Invest Newark and Newark Land Bank, and for the corporate social responsibility of our generous partner Bob’s Discount Furniture. I thank The New York Giants for the teamwork that has brought us into the end zone today, and especially for Bobby Okereke, who has wrapped his long arms around this project and applied his legendary speed, power and belief in collective playing to help the Miller’s dream come true.”
The Invest Newark Land Bank Section 8 Homeownership Conversion Program, an affordable housing initiative championed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka, allows Qualified Section 8 recipients to use their vouchers and down payment assistance to purchase single family homes. Properties are rehabilitated by local MWBE contractors. Purchasers receive homeownership counseling. The Section 8 Homeownership Conversion program is supported by partners NACA and Newark Housing Authority, and financial support by LISC, Victoria Foundation, and Wells Fargo.
Besides Mayor Baraka, the special event on Tuesday brought together pillars of the community —including Invest Newark President and CEO Marcus Randolph, Senior Vice President of the Newark Land Bank Martha Baez, Bob’s Discount Furniture Store Manager Yehea Adileh, and New York Giants Linebacker Bobby Okereke — who together presented the family with a new home filled with furnishings the family selected from Bob’s Discount Furniture. The family’s “surprise” tour guide on the furniture shopping trip was none other than Bobby Okereke.
The new homeowner, Christian Miller, a medical assistant with two children, was renting in Newark when her dream of homeownership was ignited. She received an email about the Newark Land Bank Section 8 Homeownership Program through NACA. After attending a workshop, she was inspired by stories of others with similar dreams, instilling hope, and faith in her pursuit. Her dream to build generational wealth and a brighter future for her children came true on August 18th, when her name was selected during the housing lottery at Invest Newark offices to purchase her first home through the Newark Land Bank Section 8 Program.
“We’re proud to partner with such a great group of organizations for this heartwarming holiday home unveiling,” said Lindsay Ruszczyk, director of communications and community relations at Bob’s Discount Furniture. “It’s the charitable giving and special days like today that really makes me proud to be a member of the Bob’s extended family. We hope our furniture will bring the Millers comfort, warmth, and happiness for many years to come.”
Marcus Randolph, CEO of Invest Newark shared, “We are excited that Ms. Miller has made this investment for herself, and for her family here in Newark. We thank all the partners that made today possible.”
As the homecoming celebration got underway, Miller’s 8-year-old son, Na’zier who is a proud middle linebacker for a local tackle football team, tossed a football in his new house. All smiles, Na’zier shared that that he was impressed with Okereke’s 105 tackles with the Giants this season so far but proudly noted that he had 33 under his own belt this year. Okereke shared that the Miller family will be attending the New York Giants game verses the Green Bay Packers on December 11th as a guest of the team.