The Board continued the three-year sunset clause. The Trust Fund will need to be renewed again by December 31, 2017.
The Board recognized that the financial and social costs of homelessness are high for both public and private sectors and has made ending homelessness in Somerset County a goal for local government.
To date, the Trust Fund has accrued $511,511:
$289,000 has been allocated for rental assistance, case management and financial education and training,
$18,000 has been allocated for planning and administration, and
$50,000 for special needs housing.
The Rental Assistance Program receives referrals from the Board of Social Services, the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center and other community agencies. The Community Development Division also works with Public Information to make County residents aware of the opportunity.
Some details about the households in Somerset County who have benefitted from the Trust Fund include:
The average subsidy is $250/month
Seventeen households (40 people) currently receive rental assistance.
An additional 36 households (88 people) have received rental assistance and 19 have completed the program
Of the 19 households that have completed the program, all are still housed and pay their rent with earned income
There have been many success stories including one client who has purchased a home, another will pursue a PhD at Rutgers in the fall, and three clients who now have higher paying jobs.
Plans for future Trust Fund money include:
More funding for housing construction
An enhanced referral system with the County Board of Social Services
A client mentoring program
Focus on home ownership as a long-term goal
As background on Somerset County’s Homeless Trust Fund, in 2010, the Freeholder Board passed a resolution, introduced by Freeholder Walsh, that authorized the creation of the Trust Fund. The resolution gave the County Clerk the authority to attach a $3 surcharge to the fee for all documents that are recorded.
The Board also appoints a committee of fourteen people that includes two County Freeholders, County staff and community members. The duties of the Committee are to approve a plan that sets priorities for the use of the funding and has the authority to continue, change, or add programs.
Click here for the resolution reauthorizing the Somerset County Homeless Trust Fund.
Last month we did an update on the Mercer County Homeless Trust Fund. Over the next few weeks, we will be providing updates on how the other six counties have used their Homeless Trust Funds.