Comments Due by July 31st
For more than five years, community members and organizations that serve homeless residents have been working to develop the Monmouth County Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
According to an article in the Asbury Park Press – Has Monmouth discovered the secret to ending homelessness? – on July 11, 2014.
Nearly 6,000 adults and children in Monmouth County sought help last year from shelter and services because of homelessness.
The goal is to have none.
“It’s an issue that hasn’t gotten any better,” said Tim Hearne, president and chief executive officer of The United Way of Monmouth County, who will be on a new board that will oversee the plan and homeless services. “It’s not a small problem we are trying to tackle here today.”
The county’s annual point-in-time censuses of homeless residents, which represent a one-day count of people staying in shelters or on the street, have hovered at about 600 to 650 people during the past five years with the exception of a spike seen after superstorm Sandy.
But the county’s database of families and individuals accessing homeless services show steady increases during that same time period, said Taiisa Kelly of Monarch Housing Associates, a nonprofit group that works to ensure quality affordable housing for everyone. Monmouth County awarded Monarch a $6,000 contract in 2012 to write the strategic plan based on the community input, which began in 2008.
Kelly called it “an alarming trend we have to address.”
Monmouth County government has made a concerted effort for more than 15 years to address homeless issues, she said.
The plan would:
- Create one agency with multiple locations across the county where people at risk of homelessness would go for help. The agency would then direct them to available and appropriate programs.
- Improve system coordination with standardized forms and computer systems so a person seeking help won’t have to keep giving basic information to different homeless prevention services.
- Create one agency that would be the “housing guru” — essentially a clearing house for all permanent housing opportunities.
- Innovative permanent housing would expand the housing stock, improve access to housing and create specialized housing and services for different populations, such as veterans and youth.
- Work with local institutions like hospitals and jails to reduce the number of people who are discharged without a permanent home.
- Education and advocacy for the new homeless prevention system.
Comments on the draft plan are due by July 31st. All comments should be submitted to Taiisa Kelly at Monarch Housing Associates.
Click here for the full plan.