On the night of January 28, 2020, New Jersey identified 9,663 men, women and children experiencing homelessness across the state on a single night. Since that time, we have faced a global pandemic which has highlighted the critical importance of a place to call home. While communities across the state have been working tirelessly to advance strategies to end homelessness, they have struggled to navigate insufficient resources, challenging program regulations, siloed systems, and other challenges. In the face of a continuing world-wide health crisis, re-energizing strategies to end homelessness have become even more critical.
On May 5, 2021 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published regulations for the new Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) Program established through the American Rescue Plan. Communities across the country have access to 70,000 housing choice vouchers administered by local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to assist families. The State of New Jersey PHA within the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has been awarded 996 vouchers to be used in coordination with Continuums of Care (CoC) across the state. These vouchers provide an opportunity for CoCs to move one step closer to ending homelessness.
On August 1, 2021 Monarch Housing Associates launched the 100-Day EHV challenge to connect 100 households to the DCA-EHV program. Connecting households experiencing homelessness to permanent housing voucher opportunities can be difficult as individuals and agencies work to navigate the nuanced application process and eligibility requirements. Monarch Housing Associates is sponsoring this 100-Day EHV Challenge to support communities in creating system efficiencies designed to expedite connections to housing and supports for persons experiencing homelessness.
On August 1, 2021 eight(8) communities across New Jersey joined the 100-Day EHV Challenge. The CoC Leadership, in partnership with the Coordinated Entry agencies within the following communities took this first bold step:
- Atlantic County CoC
- Hudson County CoC
- Mercer County CoC
- Middlesex County CoC
- Monmouth County CoC
- Morris County CoC
- Ocean County CoC
- Tri-County CoC (Warren, Hunterdon & Sussex Counties)
Each community will work to submit 100 applications to the DCA-EHV program in 100 days. Collectively the Cohort will submit 800 applications to the program by November 8, 2021
100-Day EHV Challenge Progress
Situated at the southern end of New Jersey, Atlantic County is comprised of 23 municipalities largely rural in nature outside of the urban center of Atlantic City and the surrounding suburbs. The economic base in the area is largely dependent on tourism and the Atlantic City casinos. The 2020 Point in Time Count identified 443 people experiencing homelessness on a single night on January 28, 2020. This has been a consistent trend over the last 5 years with the number of people experiencing homelessness fluctuating between 420 and 470 persons.
The homeless service system in Atlantic County includes the following:
- Coordinated Entry – operated as single point of entry administered by Jewish Family Services in partnership with the Atlantic County Division of Family and Child Development (welfare). The single point of entry completes assessments for all persons experiencing homelessness and provides referrals to services and housing opportunities in the community.
- 2 primary outreach teams (focus on those with mental health issues and those returning from Jail/Prison)
- 6 year-round shelters and 2 seasonal/eligibility-based shelters
- 3 transitional housing programs
- 4 Rapid ReHousing Programs
- 9 Permanent Supportive Housing Programs
Upon joining the 100-Day EHV challenge, Atlantic County identified:
- 241 persons experiencing homelessness
- About 56% (135 people) are sheltered and 43% (106 people) are unsheltered
- Priority populations targeted for the challenge include:
- Chronically Homeless – 32
- Survivors of DV – 2
- Families – 27
Hudson County is the smallest County in New Jersey with regards to geographic boundaries, but the most densely populated county in the state. Hudson is one of the fastest growing counties in New Jersey and the 4th most populated with 11 municipalities. Primarily urban in nature, the County has great economic diversity and racial/ethnic diversity where 43% of county residents are foreign born and median household incomes range from $60,000 – $100,000 according to the area of the county you are in. The 2020 Point-in-Time count identified 944 people experiencing homelessness on a single night, January 28, 2020. The County has experienced a steady increase in the number of persons experiencing homelessness over the last 5 years growing from 829 persons in 2016 to 944 persons in 2020. The largest contributor to the increasing populations are those experiencing unsheltered homelessness with a 32% increase between 2016 and 2020.
The homeless service system in Hudson County includes the following:
- Coordinated Entry – operated by a single agency, Garden State Episcopal CDC, the coordinated entry system provides assessment and referral for all persons experiencing homelessness. Garden State conducts initial assessments in the community and refers persons to services, shelter and permanent housing as available.
- 1 outreach program
- 1 drop-in center
- 9 year-round emergency shelters
- 6 seasonal shelters and motel placement programs
- 5 transitional housing programs
- 9 Rapid ReHousing Programs
- 26 Permanent Supportive Housing Programs
Upon joining the 100-Day EHV challenge, Hudson County identified:
- 638 persons experiencing homelessness
- About 19% (122 persons) sheltered and 55% (352 persons) unsheltered
- Priority populations targeted for the challenge include:
- Literally homeless households
- Households Fleeing Domestic Violence
- RRH clients needing longer term assistance