Congressman Albio Sires: I Will Never Stop Fighting for Affordable Housing
Among his 30 constituents at Hill Day were Simeria Dewalt and who spoke at the Congressional Reception about the impact of homelessness on her life and Gladys Cancel, President of the Newark Housing Authority Tenant Association. Geleen Donovan with Family Promise in Union County introduced Simeria.
“We are coming to remind you that as members of our congressional delegation, you have an affirmative obligation to represent, legislate, appropriate funds and programs and services on behalf of your constituents,” Gladys reminded Congressman Albio Sires and his colleagues from New Jersey.
“Ultimately, the combination of housing cuts, social program cuts such as food stamps, etc. will result in residents making a momentous decision – do we eat, pay for medicine or do we pay rent?” asked Gladys.
She issues a call to action to Congressman Albio Sires and his colleagues. “Will you support public housing residents and vote to maintain existing programs and services?”
Simeria Dewalt, 35, lives with her four children, ages 18, 17, 10 and 9 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
She addressed the audience, “As I stand here today, I can say that I have housing but I am here standing for those who don’t.” She rents her own apartment with assistance from a Section 8 voucher.
Affordable housing makes a big impact on Simeria’s family’s life. She told us that she wonders, without housing, “where would we be?” Simeria describes the day that she received housing as a “breath of fresh air.”
Says Simeria, “There really are people out there who need affordable housing.” She says, “It is very important that other people get the housing that they need.” She says, “Being stable is very important. If you are not stable, you cannot do the normal things that people do in society.”
Simeria is concerned about proposed cuts because “If funding wasn’t in place, I would not be where I am today.”
Over the past 4 ½ years, Simeria accomplished a great deal. This fall, she plans to attend college beginning classes towards a degree in social work. Says Simeria, “I want to help others as I have been helped.”
Congressman Sires told the crowd, “In my first months as mayor (of West New York), I never realized the demand for affordable housing. We had thousands of people in the room.” “I know your needs,” said Congressman Sires.
“I come here and it’s my job to continue to fight for affordable housing in this country. And I will never stop,” committed Congressman Sires.
“New Jersey needs affordable housing in every one of its counties,” said Congressman Sires.
We are going to need your assistance over the coming months because we are in for a big fight,” said Sires. “And we have to be ready. I will continue to work with you.”
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.