Camden Announces Housing First Program

Fifty Chronically Homeless Individuals to
Receive Permanent Housing Wrap Around Services

WHYY homeless interviews.

Formerly homeless, Robert Taylor (center left) and Morgan Wilson (center right), both of Trenton, talk with reporters about their experiences with the Housing First program in Mercer County. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

On February 23, 2015 at Cooper University Hospital, Camden City and County officials announced a long-term Housing First strategy for ending chronic homelessness in Camden.

The New Jersey Dept. of Community Affairs and the Dept. of Human Services will provide 50 federally funded vouchers. Camden County’s Homeless Trust Fund, established in 2012, will pay $100,000 a year for the first three years of the pilot providing stable, long-term housing with wrap-around services. The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Cooper University Health Care, Virtua Foundation, and other health care providers will provide additional support.

“Many of these are the highest users of emergency care and emergency room facilities. More often than not, it is difficult and often impossible for those who are homeless to be eligible for supportive housing services. This model takes the exact opposite approach.”

Said Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez endorsed the initiative.

“We know enough to end homelessness.”

Said Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers endorsed the Housing First model. Brenner added the county and state could save approximately $10,000 per person per year by switching to the Housing First model.

“In this partnership, we see how many people really do care.”

Said Janel Winter, director of housing at the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

“Hopefully, you stabilize a person, you get them back into the community, they get a job and they can move on. That’s the long-term goal of these types of programs. … Housing First is a model that works”

Charles Richmond, DCASaid Charles A. Richman, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.

The state’s poorest city, Camden has historically had a large homeless population. In 2014, #NJCounts found that the state’s homeless population increased last year, with Camden County seeing a 2% increase.

NJCounts counted about 650 homeless individuals, including more than 100 children, in Camden County last year.

“He said he bounced from one shelter to another since he was just 13. Six years ago, he landed an apartment and counseling services through a Housing First program in Trenton.

Ever since then, he said, he’s been ‘OK.’

‘It helped me get my life together. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be at. I’d be locked up, hurting myself, hurting somebody, in jail, or dead.’”

Said Morgan Wilson, a 47-year-old Ewing resident who shared his story, the Courier-Post.

The goal is to move people into the Housing First apartments in July 2015.

Click here for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s announcement of the event.

Click here for the Courier-Post’s coverage of the event.

Click here for the South Jersey Times coverage.

Click here for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage of the event.

Click here for the Philly Voice’s coverage of the announcement.

Click here for the NJ Spotlight coverage.

Click here for coverage on Newsworks.