Specifically, the editorial stressed the importance of good data.
“Having a firm grip on numbers allows the state’s social services agencies, both government-run and non-profit, to do vital planning for the coming year.”
This is critical in ensuring that funding is allocated to best practices that are proven solutions to ending homelessness for those populations most in need.
Thanks to hundreds of volunteers and seasoned social service professionals, NJCounts gave the opportunity to capture a “snapshot” of who was homeless in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties in a given 24 hour period.
“Numbers play a vital role in social-service planning, but so must the words of advocates who provide services regularly to the homeless. Only those who struggle with the harsh financial realities of serving this vulnerable population on a daily basis get the full picture.
“Connie Mercer, CEO of HomeFront Family Preservation Center in Ewing, told Times of Trenton reporter James McEvoy she sees the annual tally as a useful tool, but not as the final word.
‘It becomes counter-productive when it is seen as the only truth,’ Mercer said.”
Still, the census provides insight into the mental and physical well-being of the homeless and on any substance abuse they’re grappling with. It also tells us how long an individual has been without shelter, and whether he or she is receiving income of any sort – valuable information going forward.”
Combined with the stories and the other anecdotal expertise of that those who work to end homelessness day to day in New Jersey, NJCounts 2015 will provide valuable data as we all plan and work to end homelessness.