PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2017

Following is a condensed version of the Monarch Housing press release for the 2017 Point in Time Homeless Survey. The Union County Department of Human Services is participating in the count. For a full version of the press release contact Monarch Housing.

2016 NJ Counts report on Union County:  2016PITReportUnion

2016 NJ Counts full report: NJCounts  2016

#NJCounts 2017 Reaches out to Homeless, Families, Youth and Veterans

January 23, 2017 – #NJCounts 2017 – The statewide Point-in-Time count of the homeless will take place across the state counting individuals and households who experience homelessness on January 25, 2017.  Exact times of the count may vary by county.

Organizations,  agencies  and  others  that  plan  community  efforts  to  end  homelessness  will  conduct  the local counts.    Local count contacts are available here.   For the fourth year, Monarch Housing Associates is coordinating the statewide NJCounts.  

NJCounts 2016 found 8,941 homeless men, women and children across the state of New Jersey. This  showed  a  decrease  of  1,270  persons  (12.4%)  from  2015.  Statewide  and  individual  county  NJCounts  2016 reports are available.

Many  NJ  communities  are making great strides in ending homelessness using a Housing First approach, Rapidly Re-Housing homeless households, and implementing Coordinated Assessment to strategically prioritize scarce resources,” said Jay Everett, an associate with Monarch Housing which is directing NJCounts 2017.  

“However,  there  are  still  thousands  of  our  fellow  New  Jerseyans  who  do  not  have  a  home  in  the  middle  of  winter.    This  year,  the  State  of  New  Jersey’s  new  Housing  First  Initiative,  Moving  On Initiative, and some small increases of federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC) funds will help some of our disabled homeless neighbors.  However, our resolution to end homelessness for everyone in our state calls for understanding the need through NJCounts,  wisely utilizing our existing resources, and advocating for what  is  needed  to  finish  the work.”

Monarch Housing expects to make the final report available in spring 2017. 

HUD mandates that local communities conduct a sheltered count each year and additionally an  unsheltered count every other year. 2017 is a mandated unsheltered count year. This year, getting an accurate count of youth  experiencing homelessness to use as a baseline number is a priority. “We know all-too-well at Covenant House – in New Jersey and across the United States — the critical need to identify and engage young people who find themselves on the streets and homeless,” said Covenant House President and CEO Kevin Ryan. “Every second matters when young people are in dangerous circumstances forced to do whatever it takes to survive. That’s why NJCounts2017 is so important and why we’re glad HUD is bringing a focus to ending youth homelessness.”

According  to  Monarch  Housing  Associates,  factors  that  will  contribute  to  this  year’s count of homeless families, youth and veterans include:

  • Shelters reporting lack of capacity to house homeless families throughout 2016; New Jersey state emergency assistance no longer reimburses shelters,
  • A shortage of rental housing driving up demand and costs,
  • Failure by Congress to increase funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program harming progress in creating affordable and supportive housing,
  • New Jersey continues to have a higher than national average foreclosure rate; foreclosures cause many owners and renters to lose their homes, and
  • Too many jobs in New Jersey do not pay a living wage and those that do pay a living wage are leaving the state.

 “The NJ Counts 2017 event is critical to understanding the homeless conditions individuals and families in New Jersey experience,” says Laura Rodgers, LCSW, Chief Program Officer, Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties.  “Each year, this day is spent listening to stories of poverty and struggle while counting those who do not have a home.  This annual count  event combined with the daily outreach and services provided at coordinated entry centers for the homeless gives us our charge to target advocacy efforts to end homelessness.”

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), in 2015, a family in New Jersey must earn a housing wage of $26.52/hour to rent a two-bedroom apartment and the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in is $1,379/month.

 “Recent figures show that homelessness is trending downward across the country and state.  In New Jersey, Middlesex and Bergen Counties have been federally certified as having reached functional zero for veterans homelessness,” said Everett.  “We need to fight cuts to federal funding that ends homelessness. I urge service providers, advocates and concerned citizens to join Monarch Housing in Washington, D.C. in July to advocate for increased federal funding for vouchers and homeless services.”

The solution to homelessness includes creating the necessary supply of supportive housing – permanent, affordable  and  independent  rental  housing  with  available  support  services.  The NJCounts 2016 results will help to implement and expand on strategies proven to be best practices in ending homelessness.

Volunteers will seek out homeless residents who spent the night of January 24, 2017 in shelters, in the woods, under bridges, in vacant buildings and at other locations where they are forced to live because there is insufficient affordable or supportive housing.  On January 25, 2017, many local communities will hold Project Homelessness Connect events that connect homeless individuals with a hot meal, warm clothes, services and housing applications.

HUD mandates that local communities conduct a sheltered count each year and additionally an unsheltered count every other year. 2017 is a mandated unsheltered count year.

For more information about Monarch Housing’s work to ensure that every person will have quality affordable, permanent supportive housing that fosters freedom, independence and community integration, visit http://www.monarchhousing.org.

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Media contacts for Monarch Housing:

Kate Kelly, Monarch Housing , 908-272-5363 x 226  

Richard Brown, Monarch Housing,  908-272-5363 x 225 

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