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.