Tenth County to Establish Trust Fund
Focused on Housing First to End Homelessness
On February 23, 2016, the Cumberland County Freeholders passed on second reading on an ordinance establishing The Cumberland County Homelessness Trust Fund and the Cumberland County Homelessness Trust Fund Task Force.
The County Homelessness Trust Fund Act passed by the state in 2009, allows counties to impose a $3 surcharge on certain documents and use that revenue to fund a county homeless trust fund.
“I want to commend Freeholder Director Joe Derella, Freeholder Deputy Director Darlene Barber, Freeholder Carol Musso, Freeholder Carmen Daddario, Freeholder Thomas Sheppard, and Freeholder Jim Quinn, on the passage of the Homeless Trust Fund. Their vote this evening demonstrates a commitment to helping the less fortunate, while investing in a better tomorrow for Cumberland County.”
Said Robin Weinstein, the chair of the Cumberland County Code Blue Coalition and president of the M25 Initiative, founder of the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative and pastor of Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton.
The Trust Fund will provide the much needed funds and investment to create the housing and services including Housing First necessary to end chronic homelessness in Cumberland County.
In his remarks Pastor Weinstein said.
“Every year, a chronically homeless individual cost taxpayers approximately $25,000 to $40,000, and with nothing to show for it. Over 50 of our chronically homeless cycle in and out of our emergency rooms, jails, addiction facilities and fragmented social service system. In the end, they are still homeless and we spent upwards of $2 million dollars with nothing to show for it.”
“Government will always spend money—but this expenditure is an investment that will generate long-term savings for us all, if it is utilized appropriately,” said Weinstein.
Weinstein shared the tragic story of John who me met through his church’s shower ministry. Even with the assistance of the church community, John, an ex-convict, could not escape the cycle of homelessness and addiction and very tragically died of an overdose. With the investment in housing and services through Housing First and supportive housing, John could have recovered and rebuilt his life.
“He actually ended up where society wanted him—off of the welfare roles and out of our sight. We failed John … We must stop allowing failure to be the default for those caught in the put of homelessness. Your vote tonight is a vote of both moral and fiscal significance as we recognize that we are our brothers’ keeper, whether we like it or not. Thank you.”
For the nine counties that have already established a Homeless Trust Fund, the over $1 million in combined funds have been raised since 2011. This funding helps prevent and end homelessness for many individuals and families in their communities.
- Somerset and
Cumberland County estimates that the surcharges could raise at least $70,000 – $75,000 annually.
Click here to contact Arnold Cohen at HCDNNJ and Richard W. Brown at Monarch Housing for more information or for help in drafting your plan/ordinance.