Cumberland County Pledges to End Chronic Homelessness

Housing First to Provide Solution by 2020

Cumberland County Pledges to End Chronic HomelessnessSadly, it sometimes takes a tragic event to bring about change. But on December 10, 2015, out of tragedy came a true community based effort to end chronic homelessness.

“Joseph L. Hanshaw was a man in need of assistance. Homeless and desperate for warmth on a cold December evening in 2013, he climbed into a clothing donation box behind the Salvation Army Church in Bridgeton. He was trapped and died on Dec. 9, 2013. His death helped kick off the Code Blue Initiative in Cumberland County, where churches take turns opening up temporary shelters for homeless individuals when the weather is cold.”

Reported NJ.com.

Leaders from the M25 Initiative including:

All of them along with the M25 Initiative signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to end chronic homelessness in Cumberland County by 2020.

M25, the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative, headed by Bethany Grace Community Church Pastor Dr. Robin Weinstein will work towards ending chronic homelessness in the County. Over 50 people including three County Freeholders attended the event.

The Daily Journal reported:

“Today we remember a life lost, we celebrate a community that was brought together and we resolve to ensure that the world that we leave behind is better than when we received it, Today we look back on how far we have come and we begin this very moment, this very day a new chapter in our community.”

Pastor Rob told those in attendance.

Monarch Housing Associates will work with the collaborative the County’s Housing First program.

“Many times we look at the homelessness and think it is unsolvable. It is a very solvable problem: if you don’t have a place to call home, then you need a place to call home. Everybody else will look at this as a model.”

Monarch CEO Richard W. Brown said.

Inspira Health Network has donated $3,000 to kick off the initiative.

“While we had over two years of doing the Code Blue Coalition, we recognizance that’s just a band-aid and we need to have a holistic solution for homelessness in our area.”

Weinstein told NJ.com.

There are 200 homeless people and 53 chronically homeless people in Cumberland County. Homelessness in the County has increased 11% since 2011. Weinstein hopes the collaborative will house for 50 chronically homeless people.

Housing First moves chronically homeless individuals into their own apartments saving taxpayers between $10,000 – $20,000 per year.

SNJ Today reported:

“The initiative is doing just that, getting those in need off the streets so they can better themselves.”

Camden County recently launched a similar initiative and to date, two chronically homeless individuals are living successfully in their own apartments.

Code Blue season runs from Nov. 1 to March and goes into effect when temperatures are 25 degrees or 32 degrees with precipitation. The County’s Code Blue initiative will continue to run concurrently with Housing First.

Click here for SNJ Today’s video and news article.

Click here for the South Jersey Times news coverage.

Click here for The Daily Journal’s news coverage.