Ashley Harvey, 31 years old, lives in Paulsboro, New Jersey with her 4-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.
Says Ashley about the impact that housing has had on her life, “It was really rough being homeless and not knowing where I would eat or get a hot cooked meal.” She and her family were homeless for 8 months.
Ashley and her family initially rented their apartment with assistance through a new rental voucher. With the help of the voucher, Ashley only had to pay 30% of her income towards rent.
Since April, she has been paying the rent herself. Ashley told the audience at the Congressional Reception that “Today I am working part-time and paying my own rent in my own apartment with my two children.” She works for a bus company.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Camden helped Ashley to be more independent and pay her bills. Ashley says “Rental assistance is important to me because I have to provide for my two children. Making only minimum wage made it impossible to afford rent without the help of a rental voucher.”
She tells herself, “Keep trying and don’t give up.” And she tells the audience, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
Gabrielle Ford, 33, lives in Gloucester City, New Jersey with her 3 year-old daughter and 12 year old twins boys.”
Gabrielle says, “It is extremely important that funding is available so that people can get housing.”
She stays in touch with people she knows living in Camden that have nowhere to live.
Gabrielle and her family rent their own apartment. She says, “It is important to have funding for low-income families and single mothers with emergency situations. Homelessness can be abolished if the proper funding is available.”
She worries about the homeless who rely on the Atlantic City mission which she says is losing all but 30% of its funding.
“Homelessness has become an epidemic especially right here in Camden County and Gloucester City where I reside,” said Gabrielle. “Cutting the budget for low income housing will only cause a domino effect on our society as a whole. It will not only be cuts for low income housing but also subsidy programs that many rely on to help them get by and to help ensure that their children are able to eat every day and have a loving and stable environment to live in.”
“I would ask Congressman Norcross please to help Camden County get people off of the street and into homes because having a home safe and stable to live in is not a luxury it is a necessity,” said Gabrielle.
Congressman Donald Norcross addressed the audience about the need to fight cuts to housing funding saying, “I look forward to a day when we are not meeting because we have ended homelessness.”
“I live in the city of Camden, I have for the last nine years and I see its face every day. Every day, I’m back home in the district,” he continued.
Congressman Donald Norcross spoke about the critical importance of raising the minimum wage. “You cannot live on minimum wage.”
“When we talk about budget cuts, at best, they are terrible,” he said. “But talk about cutting funding for homelessness, it’s heartless.”
“The impact of cuts – all we need to do is look at your faces to understand what happens,” said Norcross. About homelessness, he said “This isn’t in some faraway place. This is in the place we call home, New Jersey.”
Congressman Norcross pleaded with his Republican colleagues representing New Jersey in the House, “Please don’t cut the funding.”
“We need to work together,” he said. “We cannot divide this country anymore.”
He personalized the issue of homelessness, saying “People need to understand what it’s like not having a bed to put your head on – not having a room where you can change your clothes.”
On ending homelessness, Norcross concluded with a call to action, “The only way that we are going to do it is if we do it together. Let’s work together on this and lets permanently end homelessness.”