It’s been more than 25 years since Muobo E. Enaohwo (Newkirk) arrived at New Community’s Property Management Department.
Currently the senior property manager at New Community Commons Senior, Newkirk (who legally changed her surname to Enaohwo last year but is still known to many as Newkirk) has steadily climbed the ranks to her present role, where she oversees 221 senior units at 140 South Orange Ave. in Newark and 154 family units, known as Commons Family, at scattered sites nearby. The journey, however, hasn’t always been easy.
Upon arriving at Commons Senior in 2006, Newkirk said she set about cleaning house and evicted residents who failed to pay rent, sent cease notices to individuals living there who were not named on the lease and cracked down on drug activity.
“I had to sit down to strategize,” Newkirk said of her first nine months when her policy of rule enforcement netted three pages worth of apartment vacancies. A small group of residents protested the new property manager’s style, crying foul against Newkirk at meetings in city hall for about two weeks.
“It was really tough, it was crazy,” she recalled. “Thank God we pulled through.”
Resident Rita Hudson said that she appreciated how Newkirk tackled tough issues.
“As a manager, you’ve got to be kind of firm,” said Hudson, 82, who moved into Commons Senior shortly after Newkirk arrived in 2006. “It seems like the problems get solved,” she added.
“She is competent in the position which she holds,” Property Management Director Fonda Porter said of Newkirk.
Born in Benin City in southern Nigeria, Newkirk is the fifth of nine children. She attended the Anglican Girls Grammar School where she adopted a regimented lifestyle that started each morning with a ringing bell for the wakeup call. Making one’s bed was not optional at the boarding school, which Newkirk attended for five years. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree at University of Benin. She arrived in the U.S in 1987, first landing in Houston, Texas, and later moved to New York. She is married and has three grown children and four grandchildren.
Newkirk started at New Community as an administrative assistant at Property Management in 1989. In 1996, she became assistant property manager and later property manager of both New Community Manor Senior and Manor Family, which she oversaw until 2006.
Even now, Newkirk acknowledges that challenges and clashing personalities still exist in her building, but she tries to keep an open mind.
“At times, it’s still difficult,” she said. However, her refrain remains the same: “Feel free to talk about it. Let’s discuss.”