Public Info

Union County Conducted Annual Point-in-time Count of the Homeless Population

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, The Union County Board of County Commissioners through our Department of Human Services kicked off our annual Point-In-Time (PIT) Count and Survey of the Homeless population throughout the cities in our jurisdiction.

The PIT, also known as NJCounts, takes place every January and asks for a count of unsheltered and sheltered individuals experiencing homelessness. This program ran through Wednesday, January 31st, is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and for the tenth year, Monarch Housing Associates coordinated the statewide effort, along with Continuums of Care (CoC).  The County of Union has been the lead Collaborative for the CoC since 1998.

“The annual Point-in-Time Count is not just a census; it is a compass guiding our commitment to understanding and addressing homelessness,” said Commissioner Chairwoman Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded. “By capturing a snapshot of homelessness on a specific night each year, we illuminate the urgent needs of our community, fostering compassion, awareness, and targeted intervention. It is a vital annual occurrence, which helps us navigate the complex terrain of homelessness, ensuring that no one is left unseen or unheard in our pursuit of a compassionate and inclusive Union County, where everyone gets the help they deserve.”

A total of seven (7) teams comprised of Union County staff, government officials and local nonprofit organizations banded together in smaller groups of 4-6 people during a seven (7) day period in the afternoon and late evening hours. Smaller groups surveyed people throughout the County who “sleep outdoors, in parks, alleys, under bridges, or places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, abandoned buildings, garages, or other structures without electricity or water.”

The County’s 2024 unsheltered count kicked-off at 3:00 a.m. on January 24th with thirty-five (35) volunteers gathering at the Union County Division of Social Services in Elizabeth and Plainfield.  The teams surveyed the areas of Elizabeth, Plainfield, Summit, Roselle, Roselle Park, Garwood, Linden, Rahway, Hillside and Union.  The four (4) groups that went identified nine (9) unsheltered homeless persons that were further assessed for services at the Union County DHS/Division of Social Services office, including overnight placement through the County’s Code Blue Initiative. 

Total number of homeless persons engaged between the large street outreach event on January 24th & the seven (7) day street outreach events:

  • 30 in Elizabeth
  • 2 in Linden
  • 2 in Roselle
  • 19 in Plainfield
  • 13 in Summit

A grand total of 66 homeless individuals were engaged through our street outreach efforts.

“Through the collective efforts of our dedicated teams, volunteers set out on a seven-day task to survey the homeless population, shedding light on the challenges faced by those who sleep outdoors,” Commissioner Sergio Granados, Liaison to the Human Services Advisory Council. “This collaborative initiative is a testament to our strong commitment to providing immediate support, resources, and compassion to every individual facing homelessness in Union County. Together, we work for a community where the most vulnerable are not just counted but cared for, ensuring that the path to a brighter future is accessible for all.”

The street outreach teams also provided materials for the homeless, including coats, toiletries, scarves, hats, gloves, sandwiches (provided by Be the Change from Kean University), warm chili, and hot chocolate/coffee. Unfortunately, there was an incident involving a homeless male at the County’s Division of Social Services office in Elizabeth. The individual consumed heroin, leading to an overdose. Swift action was taken by a team member from the County’s Division of Social Services and the County Police. Officer Richard Rijos promptly administered two doses of Narcan, successfully reviving the gentleman and restoring normal breathing. The rapid response by the County’s Division of Social Services and County Police averted what could have been a tragic outcome. Following the prompt intervention, the individual, was then breathing on his own, was transported to Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

On Wednesday, January 24th, service fairs were held by the City of Plainfield, Plainfield Action Services at the Plainfield Performing Arts Center and the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless at the Mickey Walker Center in Elizabeth. Plainfield’s service fair had a total forty-eight (48) persons in attendance and Elizabeth’s service fair had a total of one-hundred and forty-six (146) persons in attendance. Both service fairs offered resources from over sixteen (16) social service providers. Medical screenings were also provided at each location, where fifteen (15) individuals received a Covid-19 vaccine, twelve (12) persons received an eye exam, twelve (12) 12 persons received a hearing test, five (5) persons received the Flu vaccine and four (4) persons received information and resources about cancer screening and/or prevention.

During the seven (7) street outreach, which took place from January 24 through January 31, 2024, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, a total of seven (7) groups, representing a total of nineteen (19) volunteers went out to survey the homeless throughout Union County in: Elizabeth, Plainfield, Summit, Roselle, Roselle Park, Garwood, Linden, Rahway, Hillside and Union. The seven (7) groups that went identified fifty-seven (57) homeless persons.

In an effort to house homeless individuals before the Annual Street Outreach events, a Code Blue was called for the night of January 23, 2024.  Through the County’s Code Blue Initiative program, almost 300 homeless persons were housed.

The data collected during NJCounts will help determine how much McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance HUD funding Union County will receive and provides crucial resources for the homeless and housing insecure throughout Union County.

For information on the Department of Human Services, please visit or call the Action Line, 908-677-5405.