Trying to count the homeless

This article was in the Atlantic City Press on Project Homeless Connect in Ocean. To read the full article click here.

Trying to count the homeless

The federal government requires the census every two years. Although food, clothing and other incentives are offered, those who work with homeless people say many won’t show up to be counted.

By ROB SPAHR Staff Writer, (609) 978-2012
(Published: January 26, 2007)

TOMS RIVER — Cyndi Cordon moved to southern Ocean County on New Year’s Eve looking for a better life for herself and her 12-year-old son, Edwin.

But within three days their truck was impounded by the police because it wasn’t insured. With the loss of the truck the Cordons were not only left without a way to get around, they were also left without a home.

The Cordons are homeless and have been for all of Edwin’s life.

On Thursday, Cordon was one of thousands of New Jersey homeless people who were counted in the Point In Time survey that the federal Housing and Urban Development Department requires be conducted every two years.

The results are used to help determine the size of federal homeless assistance grants. New Jersey now receives about $35 million a year in federal aid for the homeless.

“Right now we are completely out of money and we need these surveys to show the government that there is a need for funding,” said Diane Mullener, a case worker at the Salvation Army in Toms River, which counted 11 homeless people and roughly 40 others in need of assistance.

Apart from the head count, the agencies are trying to get a handle on whether people are getting the assistance available to them and how many children and veterans do not have homes.

“About 80 percent of the homeless we get here are families,” Mullener said.

In return participants received food, winter clothing and information on where to get access to health care, education and job training.

Some of the 43 sites provided a night’s stay to participants.

“It’s one of the coldest days of the year and when these people leave here they’ll literally be on the street,” said Mullener, whose facility housed six families. “Even though we don’t have the money to house everyone, we’re going to do something with smoke and mirrors to make sure they have a place to stay tonight.”