Elizabeth, NJ – In response to new state legislation permitting counties to create Homeless Trust Funds, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has authorized the Office of the Clerk to begin collecting a $3.00 surcharge on all property transfers and other transactions, which will be dedicated to programs that address homelessness in Union County. The surcharge will become effective next year.
Approximately 1,100 Union County residents are currently homeless on any given day. Of that amount, about half are children under age 18.
“The goal is to provide for greater stability in our neighborhoods and schools, which means a better quality of life for all,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “The Homeless Trust Fund will provide a much-needed source of funding to address homelessness, which is a particular risk for families with young children.”
The New Jersey legislative act which permits counties to establish homeless trust funds was signed into law by Governor Corzine on September 8. It also authorizes county governments to collaborate with other counties on projects and programs through their homeless trust funds.
“This is a successful program that has worked in other states. It actually brings more state and federal grant dollars into counties, and it will enable us to work more closely with municipalities to support programs that address homelessness,” said Mirabella.
Under the new law, each county is permitted to add a $3.00 surcharge on all County Clerk transactions. In Union County, with approximately 80,000 transactions per year, the program is expected to raise $240,000 annually while enabling the County to leverage additional funds from state and federal sources.
“With a reliable stream of funding from year to year, we can focus on long term programs that really make a difference and actually save money over time,” said Mirabella. “The Homeless Trust Fund also gives us a framework for tackling homelessness more effectively as a regional problem across county lines.”
The new law sets goals for the kind of homeless programs that are eligible for Homeless Trust Fund support. The programs must demonstrate cost savings, be consistent with existing local programs, employ evidence-based based models, and include strong standards by which to measure their effectiveness. They must also lend themselves to replication in other counties across New Jersey, in order to achieve regional and statewide progress on preventing homelessness.