TRENTON: On Jan. 25, all 21 counties in New Jersey will embark upon the largest homeless census project ever attempted in the state.
Working collaboratively, these counties have agreed to conduct their count on the same day, using the same survey tool developed by the Corporation for Supportive Housing, a nonprofit whose mission it is to work with communities and government to develop permanent supportive housing as a means of ending homelessness.
The information gathered in this â€œPoint-In-Timeâ€ survey will: enable New Jersey to secure additional federal funding, assist community and government agencies in identifying homelessness trends and allow them to be better equipped to provide services and programs that address the populationâ€™s most pressing needs.
In New Jersey, it is estimated that approximately 25,000 people experience homelessness each year. Homeless individuals and families are living on the street, in vehicles and abandoned buildings, emergency or transitional housing, and welfare hotels or motels. Homelessness is a problem that impacts communities throughout the state including rural, suburban and urban communities alike.
In 2006, approximately $31million in federal funds was allocated to New Jersey to fund housing opportunities and service programs for the homeless. To be eligible for the funds, the federal government requires that communities (counties and or larger entitlement cities) establish a planning process referred to as a â€œContinuum of Care.â€
The community must engage in a Point-In-Time survey to determine the extent of homelessness and service needs of the population. In the past, this count has been inconsistent because each continuum has employed a different methodology and has conducted the survey at different intervals, making it difficult if not impossible to draw any conclusions about homelessness in New Jersey. This yearâ€™s count will build upon the work of CSH and their partners across the State, that began in 2005.
This year, the Point-in-Time survey will be combined with the first Project Homeless Connect to take place in New Jersey. This event is being sponsored by community leaders and is designed to provide housing referrals, support services, and hospitality in a convenient one-stop format for people experiencing homelessness. More than 35 cities have replicated this model nationwide, and New Jersey will be the first state to coordinate a statewide Project Homeless Connect.
For more specific information on the homeless count of for information on specific counties, contact The Corporation for Supportive Housing, 650 S. Broad St., 3rd Floor, Trenton, NJ 08611, (609) 392-7820.