Adequate HUD Funding Key to
On the night of January 28, 2014, 13,900 homeless men, women and children were counted across the state of New Jersey. This was an overall increase of 1,898 persons, or 15.8%, compared to the 2013 count.
Other key findings include:
- 1,499 persons, in 1,246 households, were identified as chronically homeless, an increase of 278 persons, or 22.7%, compared to 2013.
- 931 persons were living unsheltered, a 33.4% decrease from 1,399 in 2013. This decrease may be due to the very cold weather over the time of the Count.
NJ Counts 2014 – the statewide point-in-time count of the homeless provides a snapshot of homelessness in New Jersey on the night of January 28, 2014. The count reflects a snapshot of homelessness in New Jersey that night.
“Unfortunately, this year’s count shows that there are still a significant number of adults and children experiencing homelessness in New Jersey. But at the same time we have best practices and interventions such as affordable and supportive housing, Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing and Centralized Assessment which we know work to end homelessness.”
Said Taiisa Kelly, Senior Associate at Monarch Housing who directed NJ Counts 2014.
A portion of the increase in homelessness can be attributed specifically to a higher count of people staying in emergency shelters. Through NJ Counts 2014, unlike in past years’ counts, a number of counties counted persons receiving Temporary Rental Assistance (TRA) from Boards of Social Services as homeless persons in emergency shelter. Counties utilize TRA to serve persons who meet the definition of homeless.
This year’s count gives an accurate count of the homeless at a single point in time, which is key to ending homelessness. Better numbers allow homeless providers and planners to target limited resources to plan and implement programs and create affordable housing where the need is greatest.
Monarch Housing believes that the solutions to shortening and eliminating episodes of homelessness in New Jersey should include:
- Provision of an adequate supply of affordable rental housing and supportive housing,
- Relief and support systems for low-wage households threatened by foreclosure and eviction,
- Creation of jobs that pay a living wage in New Jersey’s high-priced real estate environment, and
- Increased funding for proven interventions that rapidly re-house and support homeless households.
“New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) has administered the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) for the New Jersey Statewide HMIS Collaborative since 2004 and has sponsored the annual Point In Time Report since 2007. The report is important to understanding, and a critical step toward ending, homelessness in New Jersey.”
Said Anthony L. Marchetta, Executive Director of the NJHMFA. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) funded NJ Counts 2014.
Recent figures show that homelessness is decreasing across the country. But proposed cuts to homeless assistance and affordable housing programs in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget threaten to halt this progress.
“Unfortunately, proposed cuts in funding from Congress come at a time when it is more expensive than ever for New Jersey families to afford housing. A $300 million increase for the HUD funded McKinney Vento program in FY2015 is needed to increase our capacity to end homelessness. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), 59% of renter households in our state can not afford the fair market rent of $1,296/month for a two-bedroom apartment.”
Said Taiisa Kelly.
NJ Counts 2014 was designed to understand the nature and needs of New Jersey’s homeless population. Volunteers sought out homeless residents in shelters and other locations where they are forced to live because there is insufficient affordable or supportive housing and/or other suitable living arrangements for them.
The solution to homelessness includes creating the necessary supply of supportive housing – permanent, affordable and independent rental housing with available support services. It is critical that we know how many individuals and families are in need of housing, what counties they are from, and what their service needs and circumstances are. Timely data is necessary to implement and expand on strategies that have proven to be effective in ending homelessness.
Mercer County had the lowest lengths of homelessness among households, with only 6.4% reporting being homeless for over a year and 70.2% reporting being homeless for less than 3 months. Mercer County has implemented both Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing programs as countywide policy to end homelessness, which has helped shorten the lengths of times that households experience homelessness.
The Tri-County CoC covers Warren, Hunterdon and Sussex Counties.
The Southern NJ CoC covers Camden, Gloucester and Cumberland Counties.