Congressman Frank LoBiondo Hears How Housing Transforms Lives
Congressman Frank LoBiondo was unable to attend the Congressional Reception and his staff had to leave prior to the presentation.
Over 350 advocates traveled to Washington, DC to meet with the New Jersey Congressional delegates and let them know that there should be No Housing Cuts and the need for investments for housing and homelessness prevention.
Advocates urged legislators to oppose spending cuts to programs that reduce access to affordable homes for NJ residents.
Both speakers live in Congressman Frank LoBiondo Congressional District.
Ann Thorensen, senior director for Jewish Family Services spoke about the policy issues in the district.
“I am here to say ‘No Cuts for Housing. Homelessness can happen to everyone and anyone.”
Speaking about homelessness in Atlantic County, she said.
“In 2014, in Atlantic County with amazing partners, Jewish Family Services set up the Atlantic County Homeless Alliance. We have seen over 4,600 households experiencing or at risk of imminent homelessness.”
“More McKinney Vento and Housing Choice Voucher funding would definitely have an impact on homelessness not only in Atlantic County but in the state of New Jersey and across the nation as well.”
Tabatha Kelly spoke about how housing had transformed her life.
Tabatha is 36 years old, has lived in her own supportive housing apartment in Vineland 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.
While homeless, she was able to work but found it difficult to meet her basic needs without knowing when her next meal would be, whether she would have a warm shower, or where she would park her car to sleep for the night. She found being homeless was especially difficult during the winter months.
In contrast to her life before moving into her own apartment, she has only been hospitalized one time in the last 10 years.
Says Tabatha, “Things became easier” after moving into her own apartment because “without housing, it was like hitting my head against a wall.”
She adds, “Without stability, you can’t achieve anything besides trying to acquire your basic needs.”
Says Christine Olausen, manager of New Horizons Wellness Center: “Tabatha is a very inspiring person. She helps animals and people. She works very hard at everything she does and has a very positive outlook.”
Her mental health voucher and support services come to her through the Cumberland County Guidance Center with additional support services through the New Horizons Community Wellness Center.
Tabatha is thriving in her own apartment. With the potential funding from the trust fund, along with the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative, we have the ability to replicate Tabatha’s success story over and over again.
The video was taken by Jay Everett of Monarch Housing.
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