Gloucester County Working with Neighboring Counties to Apply for Federal Funding to End Homelessness
“While the homeless challenges in places such as Camden or Philadelphia might be more obvious, with people sleeping on sidewalks and under bridges, it’s not so obvious in a place like Gloucester County. Some choose to shelter in abandoned homes or in wooded areas far from public view. Weather plays a factor, too,” Eric Stalter, director of case management services at NewPoint Behavioral Health Center.
On January 25, 2017, officials and volunteers across Gloucester County participated in NJCounts 2017, the statewide point-in-time count of the homeless.
The NJCounts 2016 report found 112 homeless people, 1.3%, of the NJCounts 2016 homeless population, in Gloucester County, the fourth lowest figure in the state, ahead only of Salem, Warren and Sussex Counties.
The 112 individuals experiencing homelessness reported through NJCounts 2016 that more than half have a disability, 42 are children, and four are from “veteran households.”
But the face of homelessness does exist in the County. Writing about a homeless outreach team that participated in NJCounts 2016,
“They encountered a man in his mid-50s living in the woods in the Deptford area. His journey to homelessness began when his wife died. He began drinking and gradually lost contact with his family.”
He has lived in the woods for almost a year.
“We see that with a lot of our people,” Stalter said. First they lose employment, then they try living off a small Social Security check. The money goes quickly, he observed, and it’s not enough to cover rent and food.
The outreach teams found 4 un-sheltered homeless individuals during NJCounts 2017.
Gloucester County has merged its Continuum of Care with the Cumberland, Cape May and Camden Counties Continuums of Care which allows it to increase its work to end homelessness. The four county continuum will receive almost $3 million in federal funding this year and that funding will go to housing and services.
“As part of our merged continuum, we represent 12 percent of the statewide homeless population,” Lisa Cerny, director of the county’s Division of Human & Disability Services, said. “One of the reasons why we merged, we are able to leverage funding and provide additional services to the region.”