NJCounts 2015 Reaches Out to Homeless Families, Youth and Veterans

Pullback of Federal Investment
Slow Sandy Recovery
Exacerbate NJ’s Affordable Housing Crisis

NJ Counts 2015NJCounts 2015 –the statewide Point-in-Time count of the homeless will take place across the state counting individuals and households who experience homelessness on January 27, 2015 (Exact times of the count may vary by county.)

Organizations, agencies and others that plan community efforts to end homelessness will conduct the local counts. Local count contacts are available here.

For the second time, Monarch Housing Associates is coordinating the statewide NJCounts. Monarch Housing expects to make the final report available in March 2015.

“We are pleased to fund NJCounts 2015 collecting data that will provide significant information and a clearer understanding of homelessness. NJCounts 2015 is a critical step toward ending homelessness in New Jersey. The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Collaborative, an affiliate of HMFA funds the NJCounts 2015 initiative.“

Said New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta.

“Given the harsh, cold winter weather at the beginning of this year, it is difficult to think of anyone living without a home on the streets, in the woods and in the shelter system. The results of this year’s count will inform our work using the best practices that we know can end homelessness and create affordable housing in New Jersey.”

Said Taiisa Kelly, Senior Associate with Monarch Housing who is directing NJCounts.

NJCounts 2014 found 13,900 homeless men, women and children in New Jersey. 2,181 families and 4,098 children were homeless. Statewide and individual county NJCounts 2014 reports are available here.

“The homeless Point-In-Time count is essential in measuring our progress towards ending homelessness in New Jersey. One of HUD’s highest priorities is to make sure every New Jerseyan has a place to call home, which provides a stable foundation for supportive services and saves taxpayer dollars by reducing costly emergency interventions. I commend and appreciate the valuable work of so many organizations and their volunteers that go out into the night to count the homeless.”

Said Maria Maio-Messano, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) NJ Field Office Director.

Every other year, including 2015, HUD mandates that local communities conduct an unsheltered count.

According to Monarch Housing Associates, several factors will contribute to the results of this year’s count of homeless families, youth and veterans including:

  • A shortage of rental housing driving up demand and costs,
  • A pullback in federal investment resulting in the failure to create more affordable housing, supportive housing, and necessary support services – Estimated that due to sequestration, 1,578 fewer families in NJ using housing vouchers as of July 2014
  • Foreclosures causing many owners and renters to lose their homes,
  • A shortage of jobs that pay a living wage, and
  • Families and individuals still living without homes even two years after Superstorm Sandy – Many programs for homeowners and renters to rebuild from Sandy are still available.

A recent housing lottery in New Jersey exemplifies the demand for affordable rental housing for the homeless in our state. Monarch Housing is a proud partner in the development of the newly constructed affordable apartments at Kilmer Homes in Edison.

The development includes 30 units of permanent supportive housing. In early January, a lottery was held with 153 eligible households applying for the available 1-and 2-BR apartments. That translates into over 5 households applying for every available apartment.

“Recent figures show that homelessness is decreasing across the country. Yet at the federal level, fewer housing vouchers mean that very low-income individuals and families live on the brink of homelessness and flat Continuum of Care funding prevents the safety net from catching them and allowing them to stabilize their lives.”

Said Taiisa Kelly.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a family in New Jersey must earn a housing wage of $24.92/hour to rent a 2-bedroom apartment and the Fair Market Rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in is $1,296/month.

Volunteers will seek out homeless residents who spent the night of January 27, 2015 in shelters, woods, under bridges, in vacant buildings 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.

Many local communities also hold Project Homelessness Connect events on January 28, 2015 that connect homeless individuals with a hot meal, warm clothes, services and housing applications.

The solution to homelessness includes creating the necessary supply of supportive housing – permanent, affordable and independent rental housing with available support services.

The NJCounts 2015 results are necessary to implement and expand on strategies that have proven to be best practices in ending homelessness including:

  • Housing First,
  • Rapid Re-Housing,
  • Centralized/Coordinated Assessment and
  • Prioritizing homelessness by public housing authorities

Click here for NJCounts 2015 County Contacts

Click here for 2015 Project Homelessness Events

Click here for the Full Press Release