Senator Robert Menendez: If ever there was a time for citizen action, it is here, it is now and you are an important part of this fight!
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) addressed the crowd of over 450 constituents at the July 26th Congressional Reception about the importance of housing and his support for advocacy for No Housing Cuts.
“We are in a fight not only for a place to call home for the citizens of NJ as well as America but also for healthcare. If ever there was a time for citizen action, it is here, it is now and you are an important part of this fight,” said Senator Robert Menendez.
Over 450 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 including Senator Robert Menendez to oppose spending cuts to programs that reduce access to affordable homes for NJ residents.
Joyce Campbell the Executive Director of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen spoke about policy issues prior to the Senator speaking.
“What is bestowed upon us by the Declaration of Independence are unalienable rights to life, liberty the pursuit of happiness, housing and food. To ensure that those rights are available to all of us is why we are here today,” said Joyce Campbell.
Brian Kulas addressed Senator Robert Menendez sharing the impact that homelessness had on his life. Brian, 40 years old, lives in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and is also a constituent of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).
Brian traveled to Washington to support funding for as much affordable housing as can be built in New Jersey.
“Without my subsidy,” says Brian. “I would be homeless.” With the assistance of a housing voucher that he received 11 years ago, Brian can afford his housing and lives in his own apartment. He said that his first night in his apartment was difficult and unreal. But then he settled comfortably into the reality that he has a place to live and a home that is stable.
When Brian first moved into his own apartment, he was very physically and mentally ill. But within just six months of living in his own apartment, he made dramatic improvements to his lifestyle, began attending Middlesex Community College where he completed a certificate program and losing a significant amount of weight. Having his own home allowed Brian to devote greater energy to his recovery and education. He reentered the workforce after a long period of unemployment and works for a caterer.
But Brian discovered that his greatest strength in becoming a community advocate. Brian became an advocate so that he can share his story and help others avoid homelessness.
“I made a commitment to the challenge. I am very fortunate to have affordable housing. I believe that many people like me share the same potential to be an advocate,” says Brian. “Stable affordable housing is not only a basic need but can be a cornerstone to recovery generating self-improvement. Funding for affordable housing builds stronger communities, fosters inclusion that builds unity, and breaks down social barriers between neighbors.”
Says Brian, “Members of congress should engage more with the community and hold more public forums to reach even more of their constituents,” says Brian.
“All of the improvements that I made in my life, began with my rental subsidy and having my own home – being given Housing First. A rental voucher gave me the opportunity to choose a new direction for my future, and discover a healthier way to live.” says Brian.
Monarch Housing was joined by 38 partner organizations in planning and supporting NJ Hill Day.
The video was taken by Jay Everett of Monarch Housing.