Gerard McVeigh and Marguerite Masse will share with their elected officials the impact that homelessness had on their lives and how an affordable home has turned their lives around.
They will be joined from speakers from all twelve congressional districts along with statewide and national speakers who will address the importance of funding to transform lives and end homelessness.
Gerard McVeigh, 56 years old, lives in Whiting, New Jersey and is a constituent of Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-3.) Gerard tells us that he is traveling to Washington D.C. for the July 26 Congressional Reception to “Help stop other people from falling into the trap of homelessness.”
Gerard’s message to our elected officials in Washington is that housing “saves the lives of folks and that having a place of one’s own gives someone dignity and allows them to grow.”
Gerard received assistance from Catholic Charities and lived in transitional housing in Patterson. Experiencing homelessness, he faced barriers and stigma everywhere he turned. Now that he lives in a home of his own, he feels “security and success.”
Gerard has accomplished a long-term recovery for the past 18 years. “Gerard, is a valuable volunteer member of the MHANJ-Ocean County peer recovery team,” says Robert Kley Vice President and COO, Mental Health Association of New Jersey (MHANJ.) “He is a Certified Recovery Support Specialist and provides volunteer outreach and support to persons struggling with both mental illness and addiction, Gerard brings his personal empathy, compassion and experience – walking the walk… that has helped so many recover to live independently in their own homes.”
Marguerite Masse, 60 years old, lives in Bogota, New Jersey and is a constituent of Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-5.) Federally funded public housing helps her remain in recovery from mental illness, move out of homelessness, and stabilize her life. She says “I have been helped so much by public housing. I have been able to stabilize my life.”
Before experiencing homelessness, Marguerite had a career in the theatre, public relations and law. She faced mental illness and became homeless for two years. While in the hospital, she connected with the Alliance Against Homelessness of Bergen County (AAH) which connected her with her permanent and affordable housing. Since moving into her public and permanent, affordable housing, she has “Been able to recover and get back to life and work.”
Now that Marguerite is older, without affordable housing, she worries that she would “fall through the cracks.” Thanks to the stability that her housing gives her, she now works as a substitute teacher and freelance journalist. She advocates for funding for affordable housing, including public housing.
Marguerite says that our elected officials in Washington need to work on expanding permanent and affordable housing. She points out that the shelter system can provided only limited assistance because many shelters limit the total length of time that an individual can stay in the shelter. Many people, one they reach their maximum number of days in the shelter system, end up back on the streets once again.
Marguerite says that we can “end homelessness by getting people back into affordable housing.” Without affordable housing, it is “impossible to climb out of homelessness.”
Marguerite worries that proposed cuts to federal housing funding could take away her independence that she has worked so hard to maintain.
“Marguerite became a part of the Alliance Against Homelessness family in January 2010. She had experienced a nightmare that few people would want to remember. We offered her stability and compassionate support and have had the joy of seeing her blossom; regaining many parts of her life including strong connections to her family, employment and her passion for the arts. Our agency offers affordable, permanent housing which provides our residents with the opportunity to pursue their personal goals and needs at their own pace. We believe that anyone can succeed with the proper supports and a stable and happy place they can call home,” said David Moore, Executive Director of the Alliance Against Homelessness.