The event was also an opportunity to honor Herb Levine, the Executive Director of the Alliance who is retiring this month.
Since 2008, 132 individuals in the Housing First program initiated by the Alliance have moved into their own apartments, and only two have returned to homelessness, a success rate of 98.5 percent.
And since 2010, Rapid Re-housing has placed 359 families in permanent homes with an average wait of 54 days, compared to 339 days under the older model of transitional housing, according to the report.
According to Herb Levine:
“Mercer Alliance is the change agent. We’re the thought leader of Mercer County’s homeless-serving institutions.
What we should be measuring is if the program helped end homelessness and helped people become sufficient enough not to return to homelessness. We became laser beams focused on that, and that’s where Housing First and Rapid Re-housing came from.”
Herb, with whom we have worked with over the last six years, spoke at the event about how everyone is replaceable. Although we agree with him, his vision and passion will be missed.
As he said:
“We are a very rich county, but a lot of people who are doing very well don’t live next door to someone in Trenton. They don’t see the vacant houses. We’re such a me, me, me society that we don’t think about our neighbor. This is the kind of work we seek to do.”
Now it is up to all of us to continue that work so that one day no one will be homeless in NJ.