Federal Budget Cuts Could Hurt Homeless in Morris

Cuts to Voucher and PATH
Funding Potentially Devastating

Federal Budget Cuts Could Hurt Homeless in Morris

Lisa Falcone, program director of HOMI, which stands for Homeless Outreach for people with Mental Illness, stands with her team of case managers and housing specialists at Mental Health Association of Morris County, Inc. in Mountain Lakes. (Photo: Tanya Breen/staff photographer)

On August, 9, 2015, the Daily Record reported on the effect that proposed cuts in Congress would have on ending homelessness in Morris County. “If automatic, across-the-board sequestration cuts aren’t stopped on Capitol Hill, a Morris County team of 12 case managers who specialize in homeless outreach here could lose two members.”

Even more unfortunate, these cuts would come at a time when Morris County has recently saw a 13.9% decrease in homelessness from 2014.

Congress is on recess until Tuesday, September 8, 2015 and Monarch has been working to invite New Jersey’s delegation in Washington, DC to visit supportive housing sites in their districts and see how Housing Choice Vouchers and other federal funding are working to end homelessness. These visits are timely because, “Congress will continue talks on the cuts—part of the federal fiscal year 2016 budget, effective Oct. 1—when it returns from its recess next month.”

Said one formerly homeless client about the help he receives from the Mental Health Association of Morris County (MHA),

“The MHA is the water that gave me life,” he said. “It accepts everyone in any shape or form. The staff understood that I was crying out for help and has never given up on me. The MHA is the family of the homeless community of Morris County.” The 23-year old now has a job and his own apartment in Mount Arlington.

The federal Housing Choice Voucher and Projects for Assistance in Transition for Homelessness (PATH) programs are both among those facing significant cuts.

“MHA figures show that the cost to house a person in a Morris homeless shelter is $113 per day and $41,600 for year. The cost to house a person in a Morris motel is $85 per day and $31,000 a year.

In contrast, the cost for MHA to provide permanent housing for a person in the community is an estimated $40 per day and $14,650 per year.” Permanent housing for the formerly homeless often relies on Vouchers to make the rent affordable.

“When asked where he stood on the issue, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-Morris, noted that he has long been a supporter of programs that assist the homeless and those with mental illness, including PATH.

‘The bill that funds PATH, and numerous other programs, is a ‘work in progress,’’ he said, adding that there are sure to be changes as talks progress.”

Click here for the Daily Record article.