Senator Cory Booker: If we ever give up on the ideal of a safe, decent place to call Home for every American we give up on America
“Americans believe in justice for all and one of the most fundamental rights in a place to call home,” said Senator Cory Booker. “If we ever give up on the ideal of a safe, decent place to call Home for every American we give up on America. We have a right and obligation to fight for housing for all.”
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 to oppose spending cuts to programs that reduce access to affordable homes for NJ residents.
Nohemy Zabala lives in Morristown, New Jersey addressed Senator Booker telling me the impact that homelessness has had on her life. Nohemy is also a constituent of Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11.)
Nohemy and her mother became homeless in June 2015. For eighteen months, the two lived from couch to couch, in their car, in a shelter, and in a transitional housing program.
In June 2016, they moved into a permanent affordable home owned by Homeless Solutions.
“When people think of homelessness they often think that it resulted from substance abuse or unwise money decisions but that’s not what happened to my mom and me,” says Nohemy.
“Hardworking parents who cannot balance paying rent and other bills can lose their footing. My mom, being a single mother has always worked unbelievable hours to sustain the both of us. She has no college degree and knows very little English which limits her opportunities. One day she lost her job and we found ourselves in a place we never thought we would be, lost and hopeless. I know, first hand, what it is like to be homeless as a result from something you simply cannot control.”
“It was not easy being homeless as a teenager,” says Nohemy. “I acknowledge the impact that Homeless Solutions has made in my life and recognize that I would not be where I am now if it weren’t for them and all of their generous sponsors.”
This fall, Nohemy will attend Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. “I would have never thought I’d be able to say I’d be attending Drew University with a full scholarship,” says Nohemy. “Not too long ago the idea of being a college student seemed far beyond my reach.”
“Housing waiting lists can go on for years. If a family does not have a place to go, inevitably they will end up living in a shelter or on the street.” She worries that if further cuts are made to federal housing funding, “Fewer people are going to be offered opportunities for affordable housing.”
“We elect our Congress to be our voice; rich and poor, the voice of everyone,” says Nohemy.
“Many organizations want to help those experiencing homelessness, many people are willing to help those in need; people and willingness are not the issue. It is the lack of funds that is the issue.”
“Nohemy and her mom inspired the entire HSI community with their perseverance and hard work. Nohemy continued to do well in high school despite struggling with homelessness, and her mom worked as many as three jobs at once to save and to be able to make a better life for her and her daughter,” says Dan McGuire, executive director of Homeless Solutions. “Unfortunately, they are proof that low-wage workers have to work over 100 hours a week to afford even a modest one-bedroom apartment.”
“Thankfully, one of Homeless Solutions’ affordable homes became available and has allowed them to thrive, including Nohemy earning a full scholarship to college and to get a chance to make her mark on the world, says Dan. “I can’t think of a better investment in the people and neighborhoods of the 11th district than homes people can afford.”
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.