Union County, NJ — The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently voted to fund support services for a state program that would provide 35 rental assistance vouchers for chronically homeless individuals and families.
The Freeholders voted to provide $75,000 through the Union County Homeless Trust Fund, which is from revenues collected through the Offices of the Union County Clerk, Joanne Rajoppi.
Under the provisions of a 2009 state law, a $3.00 fee is ascribed to each document processed by the Union County Clerk and dedicated to the Union County Homeless Trust Fund. The County of Union began collecting the fee in May, 2010. Since then, the Homeless Trust Fund has collected approximately $959,704.
Trust Fund collections can be used for:
- Prevention services such as one-time financial assistance for those at-risk of homelessness;
- Rental assistance vouchers for affordable housing projects or units within housing projects that provide permanent affordable housing for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness;
- Permanent affordable housing for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness;
- Supportive services such as social workers connected to affordable housing.
In this instance, the funds approved by the Freeholder Board will provide “wrap around” or support services to the Union County Housing First Consortium in conjunction with the recently-awarded NJ Department of Community Affairs 2016 Housing First Initiative for 35 State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) vouchers—which could provide up to ten years of rental assistance per person.
“This reduces the stress on our shelters, and most importantly, it reduces the burden and distress on homeless individuals and families who might otherwise be residing in a place not meant for human habitation, or in a temporary location,” said Bruce H. Bergen, Chairman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The consortium consists of Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless and Mount Carmel Guild Integrated Case Management Services. Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services is the lead agency for the program.
“We are proud that we were among the first agencies in the state to collect revenues that are providing relief to Union County’s homeless,” said County Clerk Rajoppi. “This is a humanitarian and worthwhile initiative.”
A total of 513 persons, in 328 households, were experiencing homelessness in Union County, according to the 2016 Point-In-Time Count.
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