This profile of Jennifer Velez appeared in Sunday’s New York Times. With her confidence and leadership imagine what we can do to end homelessness in NJ!
When Jennifer Velez, the acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, took what she called a life-changing vacation to Nicaragua in November, she saw how concerted actions by well-meaning people could significantly enrich the lives of a poor family.
â€œEvery day in government you think about trying to make things better for people, and find solutions to problems that have been entrenched for a long time,â€ Ms. Velez, 41, said. â€œYou feel like youâ€™re running in quicksand. But in that week we built two houses for an extended family, soup to nuts, two houses.â€
She hopes to carry over some of that momentum to her new position, overseeing New Jerseyâ€™s largest agency. The Department of Human Services has a budget of $9 billion, more than 16,000 employees and more than a million clients, including welfare and Medicaid recipients, people with mental illness and physical and developmental disabilities.