Union County, NJ – Union County will once again participate in the national Point-in-Time Count and Survey of the Homeless. This national census of homeless persons takes place each January. In Union County, it will be conducted from Tuesday night, January 27 to the morning of Wednesday, January 28.
As in previous years, Union County will coordinate the survey with walk-in outreach events, in order to help homeless persons and others in need connect with resources that are available to help them.
“Especially in the winter months, it is important to do our best to ensure that every person in Union County has access to the basic and essential needs of food, shelter and warmth,” said Freeholder Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh. “I’d like to thank our volunteers in advance, for their help in conducting the survey and providing assistance to those in need.”
In Union County, the Point-in-Time Count is assisted by a corps of volunteers coordinated by the Union County Department of Human Services.
Other County agencies providing assistance are the office of Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan and the Union County Police Division, which will provide individuals with transportation to shelters as needed. The Plainfield Police Department also assists in Plainfield.
This year there will be two walk-in outreach events, in Elizabeth and Plainfield. The Elizabeth event is coordinated by the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless at 119 Division Street, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., on Wednesday, January 28.
The Plainfield event is coordinated by Ruth Fellowship Ministries, 733 South Second Street, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., on Wednesday, January 28.
In addition, a special Union County initiative called “Union County Street Count” will take place early Wednesday morning, January 28, from 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. During these hours, Union County will provide shelter to anyone found homeless on the streets.
The Union County Street Count is an extension of the County’s nationally recognized Code Blue initiative. Code Blue calls for county and local agencies to coordinate their resources to seek out persons needing help and assist them in getting to a warm shelter during life-threatening cold weather alerts.
“Code Blue has proven to be effective since its inception in 2007, and the County will continue to make every effort to help those in crisis,” said Jalloh.
As mandated nationally by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the annual Point-in-Time Count includes homeless persons in conventional shelters. Persons sheltering outdoors or in other unconventional locations are counted every two years under HUD requirements. New Jersey has opted to survey both categories each year, in order to help develop improved strategies to prevent homelessness and assist the homeless.
Homelessness in New Jersey is driven by many factors, including a shortage of rental housing and consequent upward pressure on the cost of renting. Other significant factors include the ongoing foreclosure crisis, a shortage of affordable or supportive housing, a shortage of jobs that pay a living wage, and the continuing effects of housing loss after Superstorm Sandy.
In Union County, the 2014 Point-in-Time Count revealed that a significant majority of homeless persons were members of homeless families.
The count included 353 homeless family households, totaling 1,164 persons. Another 517 individual homeless persons were also counted, for an overall total of 1,681 persons.
Persons interested in volunteering to assist with the 2015 Point-in-Time count in Union County can contact Maureen Segale-Glenn, firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-527-4838.
The Point-in-Time survey is being coordinated statewide in New Jersey as NJCounts by the nonprofit housing organization Monarch Housing Associates. Tweets about NJCounts can be found on Twitter at #NJCounts 2015.
For more information about Monarch Housing Associates visit monarchhousing.org.