Those who read that statistic may ask why they were not able to save their lives by staying in a shelter and she goes on to list the reasons why individuals experiencing homelessness might choose not to enter shelter. Included in those reasons were:
There are often not enough shelter beds to go around – many shelters have wait lists;
Some shelters require residents to line up for their beds in the late afternoon or early afternoon and for the many homeless individuals with jobs, this is difficult to do;
Many shelters are overcrowded;
There are not enough shelter beds for fathers with children;
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) population often faces discrimination in shelters; and
Faith based shelters often attach religious “strings” to their shelter services.
This article comes at the time of the year when six New Jersey communities recently held hold homeless memorial events on December 20 and 21, 2012.
How can we prevent these needless deaths in New Jersey? Increasing the availability of affordable housing, supportive housing and Housing First apartments are all part of the solution. Expanding the housing first program, which focuses first on housing the chronically homeless and then treating their substance abuse, mental illness and physical health issues would especially prevent many of these needless deaths.