The Trentonian Highlights Mercer County’s PHC event

The following article was written in Mercer County’s Trenton Times

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‘Point in Time’ draws attention to Trenton’s homeless population

By L.A. PARKER

Staff Writer

TRENTON – Hundreds of city dwellers tumbled into Shiloh Baptist Church yesterday as a U.S. Housing and Urban Development initiative attempted to count the number of homeless people in Trenton and throughout Mercer County.

“I’m trying not to die out there. Hope I don’t die out there,” said one street-battered patron who admitted a chronic alcohol addiction.

He could find assistance from scores of county-based agencies that offered information regarding essentially every need – dental, medical, social, psychological – during the Mercer County Project Homelessness event.

The event coincided with HUD’s Point In Time Count (PITC), an effort to count local homeless.

Herb Levine, executive director of Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, gazed across a sea of people without permanent housing who enjoyed breakfast and lunch, haircuts and a list of other daily needs.

Guests arrived early for the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. event that offered them a warm place to sit, eat and even sift through racks of clothing, all free.

“Are we winning?” Levine said, repeating the the first question he fielded. “We’re beginning to win, but our first goal must be to get people off the street. We are dealing with people in several stages of being without shelter, those who are chronically homeless, currently homeless and potentially homeless.”

Levine performed one-on-one interviews throughout the morning for people in need of housing.

“I almost lost it there a few times because some of the stories are just incredible. It’s difficult not to be touched by them,” Levine said.

Levine called the Point In Time Count an “unscientific” attempt to number the countless homeless throughout Mercer County, but he estimated that the real numbers are likely two to four times greater than the final tally.

According to the PITC, 1,153 adults and 440 children were homeless in Mercer County on January 25, 2007.

HUD’s definition of “homeless” includes those who are currently living on the streets or in places not meant for human habitation, those living in emergency shelters, those living in transitional housing for the homeless, and those living in hotels or motels whose stays are paid for by an outside agency.