Poverty is the Cause of an Unjust Housing System

Housing is a Right, Not a Luxury

At the July 26, 2017 Congressional Reception, Deacon Theodore Foley Christ Episcopal Church Co-chair, Anti-Racism and Gerard McVeigh, constituents of Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-2) addressed the audience of over 450 New Jerseyans about the affordable housing.

In total, almost 50 constituents of Congressman MacArthur’s attended the Congressional Reception. Congressman Tom MacArthur was unable to join them at the Reception.

Congressman MacArthur's ConstituentsThe Reverend Ted Foley, a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey who lives in Beachwood and works in Toms River at Christ Church told the audience, “The problem is that in a lot of cases, there just isn’t opportunity. We have hundreds of people living in this state that just don’t have the opportunity. And so much of it is related to the zip code where we live.”

Reverend Ted Foley“Our leaders need to recognize that poverty is not caused by people being lazy,” said Deacon Foley. “Poverty is caused because people are victims of an unjust system.”

“We need to be increasing the affordable housing and not decreasing it,” said Deacon Foley.

Gerard McVeigh lives in Whiting New Jersey and works with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey in Ocean County. “I lived in a box in my teens underneath a bridge in Paterson, New Jersey,” said Gerard. “That was the first time in my life that I was homeless.”

“I served in the military and am also a proud veteran,” Gerard told the audience. He left his military service with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Gerard McVeigh“Housing is a right, it is not a luxury,” said Gerard. “I was homeless twice in my life … I was addicted to drugs and alcohol so I ended up homeless.” But Gerard’s story is now one of success. “I have not been homeless for over 35 years now and I make $27.50/hour.”

Gerard had a message for Congressman MacArthur, “I am representing the sick, poor, the disabled, the elderly in my community because the cuts that are coming down are going to harm people in my community, in the state of New Jersey.”

“This is wrong I did not fight for this so people to go hungry,” said Gerard.

“We need to fight very hard” said Gerard. He spoke not only about the need to protect housing funding but also to protect Medicaid expansion. “It allows people to have honor and dignity when they go to the doctor. The cuts would take away section 8 vouchers. This is wrong. This is America. As a person who has been homeless and has been addicted to substance abuse.”

“Please fight against this bill, fight against this budget,” gave Gerard as a call to action. “I would like to thank every politician who showed up here today.”

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.

You can follow the coverage of the Congressional Reception in the news on Twitter and Facebook at #NJHillDay, #NoHousingCuts and #OurHomesOurVoices as well as on our website.

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