Provides Supportive Services, Rental Assistance Prevention Services for the Homeless
In January 2010, Middlesex County was one of the first counties in the New Jersey to authorize the establishment of the County Homeless Trust Fund and started collecting $3.00 for every recorded documents.
By December 31, 2013, the Fund collected $1,019,378.
Of the four eligible Homeless Trust Fund categories, Middlesex County has prioritized supportive services while also providing funds for prevention and for rental subsidy programs.
More specifically, Trust Fund allocations include:
$502,000 for three supportive services programs;
$255,000 for three rental assistance programs; and
$55,000 for two prevention services programs.
Middlesex County has encouraged potential Homeless Trust Fund applicants to propose projects that are innovative, collaborative and coordinated.
Examples of two such projects follow.
Since the summer of 2012, the Homeless Empowerment Action & Response Team (HEART) program has provided street outreach to over 140 homeless individuals. HEART targets the chronically homeless who often are reluctant to engage with or access traditional service support settings and providers. The programs is a collaborative effort among Elijah’s Promise which is a healthy community soup kitchen, Rutgers University Behavioral HealthCare (formerly UMDNJ-UBHC) and Coming Home, the non-profit responsible for implementing the county’s Plan to End Homelessness. With a van fully stocked with food, clothing, blankets, and hygiene items, its mobile outreach team makes regularly scheduled stops throughout the county providing referrals, information and linkages to other resources. Staff work to develop trusting relationships with homeless individuals, with the ultimate goal of first moving them into stable housing and then into appropriate treatment programs as needed.
The Middlesex County Veterans Housing Assistance Program (VHAP) was created in late 2012 and began disbursing funds in 2013. To date, VHAP has served over 114 veteran households, including 85 individuals and 29 households that consist of 43 adults and 62 kids). It provides veterans, including those who served in the National Guard and Reserves, with homelessness prevention services and rapid re-housing assistance. An initiative of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, it is believed to be the only such program operating in New Jersey. Veteran households can receive up to $5,000 in financial assistance to provide a maximum of three months of rental arrears, security deposit, first month’s rent and/or a short term rental subsidy. This program works closely with the County’s two federally funded Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) programs. VHAP serves veterans who so not meet eligibility requirements for Veterans Administration (VA) programs and can help with SSVF funds have been exhausted.
The county has not used the Homeless Trust Fund for acquisition or construction of housing. The Board of Chosen Freeholders has allocated $1 million annually over the past five years towards the Middlesex County Housing First Capital Fund for the creation of permanent housing for the homeless.