Homeless to Speak at Congressional Reception

Housing Transforms Lives of the Homeless

To date, over 350 constituents including the formerly homeless from across New Jersey have registered for the July 13 Congressional Reception in Washington, DC.

These individuals will come together with one voice carrying the message “No Cuts for Housing.”

Individuals who have been homeless and live in each of New Jersey’s 12 congressional districts have shared their stories and will be in Washington, DC on July 13 to speak to their Senators and Representatives.

“As a person who has experienced homelessness, I know firsthand that there is no peace without a home. Life is chaotic and painful. In order to survive while homeless, things need to be done that most people can’t even conceive doing. The shame and humiliation is immeasurable and unforgettable. I will be in Washington DC to advocate for ‘No Cuts for Housing.’ Homelessness can be prevented. But if we cut housing funds, we will always be treating it as an emergency, like something that just happens. If funding isn’t available for rental assistance and affordable housing the problem will only continue to get worse and more people will suffer needlessly.”

Said Mary Rossettini, president & CEO, Advance Housing.

Below are some of the additional highlights:

Asheley Wallace, who is 30 years old, has lived for over three years in a supportive housing apartment in Audubon, New Jersey, which is in Congressman Donald Norcross’ (NJ-D-1) district. Her four children, ages 10, 9 and 7 years old and 4 months, live with her.

She became homeless living paycheck to paycheck and could not keep up with everyday expenses. But now, she is on maternity leave for her job and plans to go back to school to a surgical technician program. “I love having my own space,” said Asheley.

Tabatha Kelley, 36 years old, has lived in her own supportive housing apartment in Vineland in Congressman Frank LoBiondo’s (NJ-R-2) district for 10 years. She attends Stockton University with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree and beginning a career as a veterinarian assistant.

Prior to moving into her own apartment, Tabatha aged out of the foster care system when she was 21 and then became homeless in February 2001 for six months. She lived out of her car, cycling in and out of the hospitals.

When she is not studying, she keeps busy volunteering with animals and at the New Horizons Community Wellness Center.

“Things became easier” after moving into her own apartment because “without housing, it was like hitting my head against a wall. Without stability, you can’t achieve anything besides trying to acquire your basic needs.”

Said Tabatha.

Kara, 41 years old, has lived in her supportive housing apartment in Verona, New Jersey in Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen’s district (NJR-11) for over 3 years.

She was incarcerated in a county jail for five months. She is in recovery for mental illness and substance abuse and before moving into her own apartment, she had been to treatment for a year and then lived in a halfway house and a homeless shelter.

Of the assistance that she receives from the Mental Health Association of Essex County, she says she “wouldn’t be in this place if it were not for them.”

She has a 13-year-old son who lives with her mother in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey and she maintains a good relationship with them both.

Advocates from around the state will also be on hand on July 13 to give their policy perspectives.

”Homelessness is not an option. We strive for better and deserve more.”

Said Stefan Robinson, peer provider, Hospital Services for Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ.)

Mark Duffy, director of operations administration for Collaborative Support programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ) echoed Stefan and said.

“At Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey (CSPNJ), we assist people with special needs including those who are homeless. These people need safe, decent and affordable housing in order to be able to live in the community and remain outside of costly segregating institutions and hospitals. We have a long waiting list for our housing and know that a stable place to live is the most important component of recovery.”

Said Mark.

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