Man who once lived in sleeping bag near PATH will help count other homeless – and you can help

Out on the street

Ricardo Kaulessar

Reporter staff writer 

People debate how to help a homeless person whenever there’s an encounter. Some make assumptions about their circumstances or personalities, but each street person has a different story – just ask James Moss.

Moss had worked at the old Colgate Palmolive Company in Jersey City for 15 years as a forklift operator and batch maker until Colgate relocated its operations to Indiana in 1985. He figured he’d find another job soon, but he didn’t.

As a result, he suffered from the breakup of his marriage and a drug addiction that led him to living out of a sleeping bag near the PATH station.

He bounced around to abandoned buildings and people’s couches for more than 10 years, until he changed his life in 2000.

“I was sick and tired of blaming everyone else and I had a lot of personal problems,” said Moss. “I had a lot of pain, and I didn’t, at first, want to open up to anyone else.”

Moss sought out treatment for his drug addiction at Integrity House in Secaucus. Then he was referred to the Belmont Shelter on Belmont Avenue in Jersey City, where he opened up about a long-held secret that was destroying him emotionally – he said he had been molested by his father between the ages of 7 to 13.

Once he found stability in his life, he started volunteering his services with the non-profit Jersey City Episcopal Community Development Corporation (JCECDC) in various programs for the homeless.

Now Moss is the only employee who goes out and does outreach. He describes the work as alternatively rewarding and yet frustrating.

He will also be one of the local volunteers who helps the county conduct a census of homeless people on Jan. 25 so they can report the number to the federal government – and you can help, too.
For the New Year, Hudson County residents can give a hand to their less fortunate brethren by taking part in the upcoming Point-In-Time Homeless Survey and Project Homeless Connect on Jan. 25.
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